Tuesday, March 15, 2016

WI State Senate may propel groundwater giveaway bill Monday

[Updated Tuesday, 11:30 p.m., Tuesday. The Senate indeed passed the bill, but unless the Assembly comes back into session, the bill dies. For now. Don't count Big Ag out.]

[Updated Tuesday, 12:05 p.m., from Monday. Looks like the GOP will seal this public water theft today and put a special-interest bow on an historic, morally-bereft session] The bill to make high-capacity well ownerships and operations permanent and transferable in Wisconsin could get quick State Senate committee action Monday, making an end-of-session approval more likely.

The details are here, including this from the bill's text:
Current law requires a person to obtain approval from the Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) before constructing or operating a high capacity well,
which is a well that, together with all other wells on the same property, has the
capacity to withdraw more than 100,000 gallons of water per day.
This bill provides that no additional approval is needed for the owner of an
approved high capacity well to repair or maintain the well; to construct a
replacement high capacity well of substantially the same depth within a 75-foot
radius of the existing high capacity well; to reconstruct the existing high capacity
well; or to transfer the approval at the same time as the owner transfers the land on
which the approved high capacity well is located. No additional fee is required for
any of these actions, but the owner of the existing approved high capacity well must
notify DNR of any replacement, reconstruction, or transfer. The owner may not take
any of these actions if they would be inconsistent with the standards or conditions
of the existing high capacity well approval, and the standards and conditions of the
approval continue to apply after any of these actions are taken.
The Wisconsin Assembly has already passed the measure, but the Senate's version may contain an amendment which would require the Assembly, now adjourned, to come back into session, and because that scheduling is not clear, nor is the bill's final disposition - - at least for now.

The issue has been brewing for months, as big ag, large-scale animal feeding (and manure-producing) operations and other special interests want to put their groundwater usage beyond the oversight of the state and the public interest nearby, and downstream.

Remember that a state administrative law judge had ruled, following a lengthy, 2014 public hearing, that the DNR had to take the cumulative effects of these large, 100,000-gallons-per-day well withdrawals into account.

But Walker's 'chamber-of-commerce mentality' DNR refused to fully implement the order and special interests have pushed for the permanent-groundwater-withdrawal permission bills to further weaken the DNR's oversight role.

Note: Though a proposal to allow the purchase of local Wisconsin water and sewage facilities by out-of-state private businesses was nipped in the bud at the last minute during the legislative session, there is a bigger picture to the corporatization of Wisconsin water, land and air resources through de-regulation, privatization, and GOP-led favoritism.

Here is one cumulative listing.


Anonymous said...

Walker is insisting on passage of the bill so it is a done deal. Walker and his gang are killing us. They're abusing our resources, polluting our air and water and giving individuals and corporations free reign to totally rape the state. This all can be stopped if people vote the gang out of at least the Senate in the fall. We can't get rid of Walker but we can reduce the numbers in his band of thieves!

Anonymous said...

Leah Vukmir and other GOP probably have jobs lined up with ALEC - they won't win another election in Wisconsin after this final straw.

Anonymous said...

The message is LOUD and CLEAR to the other Great Lakes Regional Body members reviewing Waukesha's Great Lakes Application. Way to go Republicans!