State lawmakers continue their push to loosen restrictions on high capacity wells, which are wells more than 100,000 gallons of water per day. State Representative Gary Tauchen is the lead author of a bill that has already gone through senate and assembly hearings and he hopes it will reach the floor within the next week or two.
“What this bill does is it allows farmers to repair, replace, and reconstruct, or transfer an existing high capacity well, without triggering another environmental review by the DNR” said Tauchen.
According to Tauchen, the bill will help preserve property values for dairy farms and farmland that requires irrigation, while providing stability within the industry. Opponents argue that changes to the permits would lead to a depletion of Wisconsin’s groundwater, but Tauchen says the wells still must comply with the originally requirements set by the DNR to have an approved permit. “People that have high capacity wells can repair them, they can replace an existing well, but these have to be DNR approved high capacity wells” Tauchen added. “They’re built to solid standards and they have to comply with environmental and well construction and other standards that the DNR have.”
While Wisconsin has plenty of bodies of water state-wide, the Central Sands region of the state has an issue with water volume. Included in Tauchen’s bill includes calling for a groundwater study of the region, which hopes to find a common ground with the agriculture industry and advocates of the environment. Tauchen notes that a compromise will likely have to be reached for the bill to stand a chance of passing.