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Judge Rules DNR Has No Authority To Monitor High Capacity Well

Two Wells Will Pump 500 Gallons Per Minute For Large Dairy Farm

dairy factory farm
Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (CC-BY-NC-ND)  

A judge in Outagamie County has ruled the state Department of Natural Resources doesn’t have the authority to monitor high-capacity wells at a large dairy in central Wisconsin.

The New Chester Dairy plans to install two high-capacity wells that will each pump 500 gallons a minute to provide water for more than 8,600 cows. The judge ruled the DNR can’t require a dairy to measure how that much pumping would affect ground water.

Elizabeth Wheeler, of Clean Wisconsin, said the ruling prevents the state from adequately protecting groundwater resources.

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“It really speaks to the need for additional groundwater legislation something that’s been debated and contested in the capitol and needs to be addressed sooner rather than later,” said Wheeler.

But Scott Manley, of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, calls the ruling a victory for employers and an endorsement of the current Legislature’s efforts to roll back regulations that burden businesses.

WMC field amicus briefs in support the suit brought by New Chester Dairy challenging the DNR’s authority to require the monitoring wells. Manley said the ruling is a sign that “the days of (government agencies) regulating by fiat are over.”

Wheeler said the group will continue to push for amendments to a bill currently making its way through the legislature that will allow the DNR to establish special groundwater protection zones where the DNR will have the authority to require more stringent monitoring of high-capacity wells.