Monday, September 14, 2015

Another WI community fights for its water

[Updated] The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, despite its overt corporatization, is still telling the world on its website - - read and copy before it gets deleted or watered-down - - that Wisconsin's waters belong to everyone. By law.
But time and time again, as this blog has noted for years, Wisconsinites find themselves fighting to protect their rights to water quality and quantity, access and enjoyment.

The latest example: people who live near Carlin Lake, in Vilas County, who have written to media (below) to protest, in detail, plans by a water bottler - - (and I do find through a simple Internet search this information about one such fledgling effort) - - that could send water away from this relatively small, 155-acre northern Wisconsin lake:
Those of us who own property on Carlin Lake in Presque Isle believe that we are caretakers of this beautiful natural environment and for years, have committed ourselves to maintaining it for future generations. Thus, we are alarmed by the present proposal to pump water from Carlin's aquifer to be transported for bottling. 
We believe that several practical and legal factors indicate that this proposed business should not be allowed to proceed. 
1. Carlin is a headwater lake, so our lake's sole water supply comes from rainwater. No water drains into Carlin from any other source. Therefore, our groundwater remains stable only when output equals input, that is, when rainfall is able to replenish any water that is used.
All water currently drawn from our household wells returns to the Carlin Lake aquifer, including bathroom and kitchen uses. Any water which would be pumped and taken away to be bottled and sold would never return to the aquifer from which it was taken... 
We believe that allowing this groundwater, everyone's natural resource, to be taken and sold for commercial profit would set a dangerous precedent, potentially opening the door to similar operations across the water-wealthy Northwoods. 
For decades, residents of Carlin Lake have worked diligently to protect both our lake environment and our residential neighborhood. We ask that both citizens and government agencies scrutinize all aspects of this proposal and take any necessary steps to protect our water resource. 
We believe that when all legal questions are answered, this proposed development will be shown to be a real threat to our shared values.
Carlin Lake Association 
Committee: Ramona Kubica, Cecil Davis, Bill Huemann, Carmen Farwell 
The Carlin Lake committee hopes the Great Lakes Compact of 2008 would bar the removal of water in bottles, but as was pointed out when the Compact was drafted and debated, an exemption for export in bottles - - echoing the tolerance for exported water in beer cans and other so-called "consumptive uses" - - was included in the agreement, principally to please the Michigan water  bottling industry (see "Ice Mountain," for example), and now that flaw may create an unforeseen and regrettable impact in Northern Wisconsin.

The struggle for water conservation and access does remind me of what faced in NW Wisconsin, where residents fought to protect rivers and rice-growing wetlands near the proposed open-pit iron mine, or south of Sheboygan where a major golf course plan imperils wetlands and the Black River Forest, or in Western Wisconsin where frac sand has spilled into the rivers, or near the Little Plover River in Portage County which regularly is drained by nearby potato farm irrigation, or in Central Wisconsin or Kewaunee County, where mega-dairies are fouling the water table - - because Wisconsin has sidelined the DNR and now puts business uses of water above ordinary residential and recreational priorities, and these regulatory changes are being embedded in the law.


Anonymous said...

Indeed there is a profit inspired future for the water bottling industry. This may just be a test case in which corporate moguls attempt to dip their toes in the water. As more of the west burns, larger areas become drought stricken and more of the fresh water becomes undrinkable and inaccessible d/t a lax in pollution standards, the overall value of fresh water rises. Hence the profiteers begin to salivate.
The time to organize defenses against these predators is now. The Great Lakes Compact does not include the prohibiting of bottling water for consumption so a specific "Compact" protecting isolated bodies of local waters from being irrevocably tapped needs to be drawn up. Perhaps Midwest Environmental Advocates can or will foster legislation on a federal level for this to happen. The US Fish & Wildlife seems to be more proactive these days than the EPA.
It is best to stop this tapping into isolated bodies of fresh water within small communities before it spreads to many & then seemingly unlimited sources like a virus.

Anonymous said...

The Compact flaw that draws fear in Waukesha the most is that when the compact partners realize that there will be a thousand straws from within the basin with a consumptive allowances like bottling plants a beer producers, they will never get Lake Michigan water.