Wisconsin Groundwater Law Good; More Work Needed
groundwater quantity law is working as lawmakers intended to bolster
protection for Wisconsin trout streams and other resource waters from
potential impacts from new high-capacity wells, according to a report
recently delivered to Wisconsin lawmakers by an advisory group charged
with assessing the law.
“Overall, the committee believes Act 310 is working as originally
intended as a first step in integrated water management,” states the
submittal letter signed by Groundwater Advisory Committee co-chairs Ron
Kuehn and M. Carol McCartney and agreed to by the 12 other members.
“The law has provided an added level of environmental protection for
trout streams, outstanding resource waters, exceptional resource waters
and springs by ensuring that potential impacts to these resources be
evaluated and reduced as part of the high-capacity well approval
process,” according to a Jan. 8 press release.
However, the letter notes that “further work remains to be done to
build upon the successes of Act 310” and said that information
collected as the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) continues to
implement the law, along with ongoing research and monitoring, “will be
essential as enhancements to the regulatory framework are
contemplated.” The full letter and the report are available on the DNR Web site.
The Groundwater Advisory Committee
was established under 2003 Wisconsin Act 310, and charged with
reporting back to the legislature on how the law is working and the
adequacy of specific provisions of the law. Under Act 310, new
high-capacity wells get an environmental review when they are located
within 1,200 feet of a trout stream or those lakes or rivers officially
designated as exceptional or outstanding resource waters, certain
springs, and certain well systems with specific water losses.
Areas the committee unanimously agreed on included that Wisconsin
needs a comprehensive statewide water management plan or strategy that
would establish a vision and priorities for the long-term management of
the state’s groundwater and its lakes, rivers and wetlands. It also
endorsed making improvements in the statewide groundwater monitoring