Defending our Groundwater in the Central Sands

All across Wisconsin, groundwater plays a vital role. It supplies our abundance of lakes, rivers, and streams. Many people rely on it for their daily water needs. Groundwater is essential to the well-being of our communities, our economy and our beautiful waterways and wetlands.

The Central Sands, however, has a critical shortage of groundwater. Many lakes and streams have been drying up, and some have disappeared completely. Some families are finding their wells tapped out.

Meanwhile, the Department of Natural Resources approved permits for high-capacity wells–those that draw more than 100,000 gallons of water per day–despite scientific evidence that these proposed wells negatively impact nearby lakes and streams.

Clean Wisconsin is at the forefront of efforts to protect groundwater in the Central Sands. In 2016, Clean Wisconsin filed nine lawsuits against the DNR for issuing high-capacity well permits without accounting for the impacts these wells would have on surrounding waterbodies. Clean Wisconsin asserted that the state agency is abnegating their constitutional duty to protect the waters of the state for the people of Wisconsin.

Our water belongs to everyone in Wisconsin, and there are many people–those whose private wells have run dry, those whose lake homes are now without lakes, those who long to once again fish for trout in diminished streams–who rely and depend on strong protections for our water. We’re honored to represent the interests of the people of Wisconsin who care about clean and plentiful water for all.

On October 6, 2017, Dane County Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn for the Dane County Circuit Court heard oral arguments in this case. On October 11, in a major victory for Wisconsin’s waters, Judge Bailey-Rihn ruled in Clean Wisconsin’s favor. She nullified the inadequate high-capacity well permits, requiring the DNR to fulfill their constitutional duty to protect Wisconsin’s waters by considering the impacts these wells are having on rivers, lakes, and streams.

For more information, see our press release on the ruling,  Judge Bailey-Rihn’s October 11 ruling, and our filed petitions below.

Read more.

Ruling in favor: Clean Wisconsin wins cases against DNR

Ruling in favor: Clean Wisconsin wins cases against DNR

Wisconsin State Supreme Court sides with Clean Wisconsin in two critical environmental casesAfter years of court battles, the Wisconsin Supreme Court handed environmental advocates in the state a pair of victories today. The Court ruled in two separate cases, each...

Attorney General acts in interest of public waters, science

Attorney General acts in interest of public waters, science

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Clean Wisconsin legal cases move forward

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High stakes for Wisconsin’s water

High stakes for Wisconsin’s water

“The Wisconsin Supreme Court now has the future of our water management in their hands Both of these cases require the court to decide whether water will be protected for public benefit, or instead overused or polluted for the private gain for a handful of corporate farms.”

Wisconsin’s Waters Win in Clean Wisconsin High-Capacity Well Case

Dane County Circuit Court ordered the DNR to vacate, or invalidate, seven high-capacity well permits and remand one for consideration. Clean Wisconsin sued the DNR in October of 2016, after the agency issued a series of high-capacity well permits that disregarded its own scientific analysis of the impacts the wells would have on neighboring water bodies.

Clean Wisconsin uncovers billion-gallon groundwater giveaway

For industrial users, it's open season on Wisconsin's groundwater Madison, Wis. – As lawmakers in the state capitol prepare to vote on a bill that would lock-in the unsustainable pumping rates of existing high-capacity wells, an in-depth analysis of dozens of recently...

Clean Wisconsin challenges high capacity well permits

Clean Wisconsin, the state’s oldest environmental organization, filed nine legal challenges Friday against the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) over the agency’s recent granting of high-capacity well permits, mainly in the Central Sands region.

DNR Quietly Adopts AG’s Opinion on High-Capacity Wells

After a May Attorney General opinion that sought to strip DNR’s ability to meaningfully review high-capacity wells in what has been a very high-profile environmental issue, the DNR quietly posted on its website today that it will adopt the Attorney General’s opinion, which will leave most waters unprotected.