Tuesday, May 2, 2017

WI groundwater giveaway tied to Tuesday vote: bazillions+ gallons

[updated] I've been blogging repeatedly about the groundwater privatization and giveaway bill which the Wisconsin State Assembly could approve Tuesday and send to right-wing Governor and 'chamber of commerce mentality' governance advocate Scott Walker for his guaranteed signature.

The bill would make permits permanent and transferable for existing high-capacity wells - - those that pump at least 100,000 gallons of water per 24-hour day - -  though the state's waters according to the Wisconsin Constitution are held in trust by the state for all the people:

The public trust doctrine 
Wisconsin's Waters Belong to Everyone

...the public interest, once primarily interpreted to protect public rights to transportation on navigable waters, has been broadened to include protected public rights to water quality and quantity, recreational activities, and scenic beauty...
All Wisconsin citizens have the right to boat, fish, hunt, ice skate, and swim on navigable waters, as well as enjoy the natural scenic beauty of navigable waters, and enjoy the quality and quantity of water that supports those uses...
The [State Supreme Court] court has ruled that DNR staff, when they review projects that could impact Wisconsin lakes and rivers, must consider the cumulative impacts of individual projects in their decisions. 
"A little fill here and there may seem to be nothing to become excited about. But one fill, though comparatively inconsequential, may lead to another, and another, and before long a great body may be eaten away until it may no longer exist. Our navigable waters are a precious natural heritage, once gone, they disappear forever," wrote the Wisconsin State Supreme Court justices in their opinion resolving Hixon v. PSC. 
In other words, groundwater that is connected to surface, or navigable water, and keeps the streams and lakes fed, fishable, swimmable, etc.

So how much free and easy taking of the people's water are we talking about on an annual basis?

Hard to say exactly, but it's a gigantic number.

Some math - - not my strong suit, so feel free to submit corrections:

*  The Associated Press has reported recently that there are 12,700 such permits' many are in the heavily agricultural and irrigated Central Sands region where water shortages like this one

in the Little Plover River have been reported.

The DNR says also that there were 104 more such applications filed during a thirty-six week period that ended in mid-April - - so for argument's sake, let's round off the number of such high-capacity well permits in place or soon to be approved to 13,000 statewide, watering big farms, golf courses, industrial-scale feedlots and other businesses.

So at a minimum, those wells with high-capacity permits could pump daily, on paper, at least 13,000 times 100,000 gallons or 1,300,000,000 gallons of water daily - - and then multiplied by 365 days - - 474,500,000,000 gallons of water - - about half a trillion gallons a year.

And while some of those permits may be dormant, or in use seasonably, the Wisconsin State Journal recently reported that a relative handful of these existing high-capacity permit holders were allowed to greatly increase their withdrawals far, far in excess of 100,000 gallons a day: 

Since October, Wisconsin has approved requests from businesses for a billion gallons per month in new groundwater withdrawals...
The records show the state Department of Natural Resources granted 38 of 41 requests for revisions to high-capacity well permits... 
The revised well permits were originally written between 2011 and last June when DNR policy changed. Each included an upper limit for the amount of water that could be pumped in any 30-day period. The total for the permits had been 1.3 billion gallons. Their 30-day limits now total 2.4 billion gallons. 
So the potential amount of free water that will locked up by permanent and transferrable groundwater high-capacity well permits annually is a really big number annually that could extend from billions of gallons to trillions.

And in your lifetime, Bucky? Just keep adding zeros.

Does the Governor, State Legislature, and Attorney General who opined otherwise and against the Public Trust Doctrine as interpreted by the State Supreme Court deliver like that for you?

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