Shankland: Groundwater Bill Won't Cut It

By WSAU News

MADISON, WI (WSAU) -- A potential solution from state legislators in the battle for groundwater rights in Portage and Wood Counties isn't going far enough, according to one Stevens Point representative.

The bill in the State Senate removes the requirement for owners of high-capacity wells to have them re-examined by the DNR if they have to be repaired or replaced, but also calls for a water study in regions of central and southern Wisconsin to advise lawmakers how to proceed with potential regulation of wells.

Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) has been an advocate for equal water rights between agriculture and citizens. She says this bill is nearly identical to one that didn't pass in the last legislative session.

Shankland said, "We've had a lot of conversations in the legislature that I feel are not contributing to a science-based discussion," she said. "I'm hoping that if enough people speak up and ask for a real solution that we can get there."

"The study that's included in the bill only singles out navigable waters... but it doesn't actually include the cumulative effects of high-capacity well withdrawals on other groundwater levels, on your well, for example."

The DNR currently does not have the power to deny well permits based on environmental impact, and that power is not addressed in this bill.

Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) is a co-sponsor of the bill, but he did not return a contact for comment. Shankland is hopeful this is the first of several bills that look to solve groundwater rights in Wisconsin.