Wisconsin Capitol Hearing on High Capacity Wells

It was filled wall to wall in the room at the Wisconsin State Capitol where a public hearing was held for bills concerning high capacity wells. Opposition to high capacity wells is rooted in the fear that the lowering lake levels in Wisconsin are due to the deep drilling farmers need to water their crops. Farmers, however, were airing their grievances about the time it takes to go through the application process constantly to get that water. Tamas Houlihan, Executive Director of Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers Association described farmers to Bobbi Jo as the original environmentalists. If farmers drain the aquifer, they’re out of business, so they are trying to find a balance.


The movement of crops and study of high capacity wells on ground water supply are a couple measures Houlihan suggested in place of removing high capacity wells altogether. Balance was his main objective. The bill, authored in part by State Representative Gary Tauchen, deals only with currently existing wells. Some misunderstanding in the room was that it pertained to future wells as well.


The bill aims to save farmers the time and consequentially cost of going through the review process by the DNR for their high capacity wells. The DNR still would have the right to review if there was an environmental problem, but it would offer predictability and protection to farmers. Tauchen agreed that the bill is not comprehensive, and revisions could still be in store, but the discussion right now is needed to clear any misunderstandings about what the bill says and why farmers are supporting it.