Controversial high-capacity well bill expected to pass Assembly next month

By Amber Luckette, WSAW Channel 7

STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAW) -- Tuesday the state assembly is expected to vote on a controversial bill that would lessen the regulations on the use of high capacity wells for farmers.

On an average day, the wells can pump 100,000 gallons.

Earlier this month, Senator Patrick Testin (R-Stevens Point, along with 19 other senators voted in favor Republican bill that would relax high-capacity well regulations.

“It's crucial that our growers and farmers can provide and irrigate to their crops to provide for their employees and families,” Sen. Testin explained.

But for local environmentalists and democrats like Representative Katrina Shankland, (D- Stevens Point) they believe that is excessive.

“There's a provision in the bill that allows the for repair, replace and transfer of wells without any review ever. So, the DNR at no point can come in and reassess the pumping and the effect it's having on other water surfaces,” Rep. Shankland said.

But Testin said that's not the case. And passing the bill would have little effect on a farmer's access to water.

“Farmers in the area they want to be good stewards of the resources. In the Central Sands area we all rely on ground water and they want to be good stewards because they rely on that water too,” Testin said.

But that's still leaving many people in the Central Sands region feeling uneasy. Especially, with the bill being put to a vote on Tuesday.

The Assembly is scheduled to pass the bill in May.

Shankland said she and other democrats will continue to fight it.