Aren’t you glad you don’t live in California where they are facing water shortages and water usage restrictions? Aren’t you glad we have plenty of water here in Wisconsin? But do we?
Our neighbors to the west in Portage County are seeing a trout stream dry up in the summer and lakes becoming a shadow of their former size. Ask friends who live to the south in Waushara County. Plainfield Lakes are barely a wetland and Huron Lake’s shoreland keeps growing as the lake recedes. The groundwater that fills all of Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers and streams is being depleted. Development and over-pumping of groundwater have serious impacts on farms, businesses, municipalities and citizens.
Currently, according to the USDA, approximately 80 percent of the nation’s water consumption is used for agriculture, leaving 20 percent for industry and people. According to the River Alliance of Wisconsin, in the last two years, there has been a 40 percent increase in high-capacity well permit applications submitted.
Eric Ebersberger, section chief with the DNR Water Office, reports that since July 2014, there have been 11 permit applications filed from Waushara County, 15 from Portage County and two from Waupaca County.
As high-capacity wells increase in Waupaca County, we will see similar impacts on our lakes and rivers.
Historically, there have been few protections for property owners over water levels. In 2014, the legislature passed a law blocking citizen challenges of the permitting of high-capacity wells near their property. By contrast, both Minnesota and Michigan have developed rules meant to provide sustainable groundwater resources for all users while continuing to issue high capacity well permits.
Wisconsin needs to look to those neighboring states and use their models to develop a groundwater management law, based on science, that protects citizens and our natural resources and that will prevent problems in the future caused by over-pumping of groundwater.
For more information, “like” the Central Sands Water Action Coalition and the Friends of Central Sands pages on Facebook. For pictures and more information, check their websites, www.centralsandswater.org and www.friendsofcs.org.