Action alert from Wisconsin Lakes: Wisconsin waters are under attack

This is an action alert from Wisconsin Lakes. Original text and helpful links are here.

Assembly Committee on Environment & Forestry Holding Public Hearing on Groundwater & Phosphorus Bills

PUBLIC HEARING
Assembly Committee on Environment & Forestry
Thursday, January 30, 2014 ~ 12:30pm
Room 225 Northwest, State Capitol

A hearing will be held on:

AB679: Easing high capacity well approvals
AB680: Allowing fees in lieu of reduction in phosphorus discharges
~ Wisconsin Lakes is OPPOSED to both of these bills ~

AB679 – Haven’t we seen this groundwater bill before?

AB679 is the Assembly version of SB302, the bill introduced last fall and passed by a Senate committee. It would drastically limit the Department of Natural Resources ability to regulate high capacity wells. These wells suck huge amounts of groundwater, and in some areas of the state like the Central Sands are draining surface waters. This bill not only fails to address this problem, it makes it worse by preventing DNR from looking at the cumulative impact of all wells in an area before approving a new well by overturning the landmark WI Supreme Court’s Lake Beulah case.

As was the case with the Senate bill, legislators need to hear from you that this bill is bad for Wisconsin and that we need reasonable and equitable laws to manage our ground and surface waters together. Tell your legislator you oppose AB679!

Read more about AB679/SB302 here on wisconsinlakes.org.

AB680 – Keep polluters on the hook to reduce phosphorus from our waters!

Too much phosphorus in our waters is what causes the ugly, sometimes toxic algae blooms that plague many of our lakes in the summer. A few years ago, Wisconsin passed a strong, unique set of laws to combat the problem by balancing improved water quality with the cost it takes to get there, and a 2012 DNR study says that the law is a huge benefit to Wisconsin economically. Unfortunately, AB680 would add another option to that law, but in a way the lets polluters off the hook too easily and that may not result in cleaner water.

The current law says that in addition to paying the sometimes high cost to upgrade facilities, businesses and cities can choose an “adaptive management” option where they work with farmers and other sources of polluted runoff in a watershed to reduce the overall amount of phosphorus flowing into the water to an acceptable level. This option not only can be more cost effective, it also ensures everyone – cities, businesses, farmers, and county governments – are part of the solution.

AB680 would add a third option, and it’s not a good one. The bill would allow businesses and cities to opt out of the solution simply by paying a fee to the county. Now, that fee would go to help farmers solve their runoff problems, which is a good thing if the money is spent well. Unfortunately, this bill has too many problems to be a workable solution. AB680:

Gives businesses and cities nearly twenty years in some cases – twenty years! – to achieve good water quality,
Provides no accountability for what happens to the fees paid to the counties – if the money doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do, their is precious little oversight and even less recourse,
Lets cities and industries off the hook with nothing more than a payment, rather than encourage ALL parties to the problem to work together to solve the problem in the most cost efficient way.
We understand that solving the problem of phosphorus in our waters can be huge, and we support efforts, like adaptive management that try to honestly balance everyone’s needs in the most efficient way. But AB680 doesn’t do that – instead it could end up hurting farmers, harming tourism and recreational uses, depress property values, and negatively impact all of us who use and treasure our lakes.

So we’re asking you to let your legislators know you support Wisconsin’s strong and effective laws to reduce phosphorus pollution in our waters, and that you believe no one should be let off the hook with nothing more than a check. Ask them to oppose AB680.

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