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LRBs0340/1
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2015 - 2016 LEGISLATURE
ASSEMBLY SUBSTITUTE AMENDMENT 1,
TO ASSEMBLY BILL 874
February 15, 2016 - Offered by Representative Krug.
AB874-ASA1,1,6 1An Act to amend 281.34 (2); and to create 281.34 (1) (ek), 281.34 (2g), 281.34
2(7m) and 281.955 of the statutes; relating to: replacement, reconstruction, and
3transfer of an approved high capacity well, recommendation of special
4groundwater measures by the Department of Natural Resources, metering
5requirements and grants for certain high capacity wells, and authorizing a
6private right of action.
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This substitute amendment makes certain changes to the laws regulating high
capacity wells, which are wells that, together with all other wells on the same
property, have the capacity to withdraw more than 100,000 gallons of water per day.
Activities exempt from approval
Current law requires a person to obtain approval from the Department of
Natural Resources before constructing or operating a high capacity well. This
substitute amendment provides that no additional approval is needed for the owner
of an approved high capacity well to 1) repair or maintain the well, 2) construct a
replacement high capacity well, if the replacement well's purpose is to prevent
contamination or if the replacement well will be substantially the same depth as and

either within a 75-foot radius of the existing well or farther from the nearest
groundwater protection area than the existing well, 3) reconstruct the existing well
to substantially the same depth and specifications as the existing well, or 4) transfer
the approval at the same time as the owner transfers the land on which the approved
high capacity well is located. No additional fee is required for any of these actions,
but the owner of the existing approved high capacity well must notify DNR of any
replacement, reconstruction, or transfer. The owner may not take any of these
actions if they would be inconsistent with the standards or conditions of the existing
high capacity well approval, and the standards and conditions of the approval
continue to apply after any of these actions are taken.
Designated study area
This substitute amendment also requires DNR to evaluate and model the
hydrology of the Fourteenmile Creek Watershed, the Mecan River Watershed, and
the Pine River and Willow Creek Watershed, located in parts of Adams, Green Lake,
Juneau, Marquette, Portage, Waupaca, Waushara, Winnebago, and Wood counties
(the designated study area). If DNR determines that special measures relating to
existing and potential groundwater withdrawal are necessary in all or part of that
area to prevent or remedy a significant reduction of a navigable stream's or navigable
lake's rate of flow or water level below its average seasonal levels, DNR must issue
a decision on whether it recommends that the legislature adopt, by statute, special
measures relating to groundwater withdrawal in all or part of that area. DNR must
hold a public hearing on its decision. Following the public hearing, the substitute
amendment requires DNR to submit a report to the legislature describing what
special measures, if any, it recommends that the legislature adopt in all or part of the
designated study area.
The substitute amendment requires the owner of a new high capacity well
located in the designated study area, or an owner who replaces, reconstructs, or
transfers ownership of a high capacity well located in the designated study area, to
provide, with the annual pumping report that it submits to DNR, readings from a
water meter showing the well's water usage.
The substitute amendment also permits DNR to provide a qualified lake
association with an approval to construct a high capacity well for the purpose of
providing water to a lake located in the designated study area to assist DNR in
evaluating and modeling the hydrology of that area, if DNR determines that the
lake's water level has been significantly reduced below its average seasonal levels.
Under the substitute amendment, DNR must waive the application fee and expedite
the review and approval process for an application submitted by a qualified lake
association, and may not issue an approval if it determines that providing water from
the proposed high capacity well to a lake is likely to result in a violation of water
quality standards for that lake. DNR must also develop and administer a financial
assistance program to provide grants to qualified lake associations to construct high
capacity wells for this purpose.
Nuisance actions
This substitute amendment also provides that a person who is unreasonably
harmed by a lowering of the water table or a reduction in artesian pressure caused

by another person's groundwater withdrawal may bring an action for nuisance
against the person who withdraws the groundwater, regardless of whether the
groundwater is used for a beneficial purpose.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
AB874-ASA1,1 1Section 1. 281.34 (1) (ek) of the statutes is created to read:
AB874-ASA1,3,32 281.34 (1) (ek) "Reconstruct" means to modify original construction including
3deepening, lining, installing or replacing a screen, and underreaming.
AB874-ASA1,2 4Section 2. 281.34 (2) of the statutes is amended to read:
AB874-ASA1,3,105 281.34 (2) Approval required for high capacity wells. An Except as provided
6under sub. (2g), an
owner shall apply to the department for approval before
7construction of a high capacity well begins. No Except as provided under sub. (2g),
8no
person may construct or withdraw water from a high capacity well without the
9approval of the department under this section or under s. 281.17 (1), 2001 stats. An
10owner applying for approval under this subsection shall pay a fee of $500.
AB874-ASA1,3 11Section 3. 281.34 (2g) of the statutes is created to read:
AB874-ASA1,3,1612 281.34 (2g) Repair, replacement, reconstruction, and transfer of ownership
13of an approved high capacity well.
(a) Except as provided in par. (e), if an existing
14high capacity well has been approved under this section or under s. 281.17 (1), 2001
15stats., the owner of that well may take any of the following actions without obtaining
16an additional approval under this section:
AB874-ASA1,3,1717 1. Repair and maintain the existing high capacity well.
AB874-ASA1,4,318 2. Construct a new high capacity well to replace the existing high capacity well
19if the new high capacity well will be constructed in accordance with department
20standards that apply to the construction of new high capacity wells on the date that

1construction of the replacement high capacity well begins, if the existing high
2capacity well is filled and sealed as provided in rules promulgated by the
3department, and if any of the following applies:
AB874-ASA1,4,64 a. The purpose of replacement is to remedy or prevent contamination. The
5owner of the well shall submit documentation of the contamination to the
6department in the manner and form required by the department.
AB874-ASA1,4,117 b. The replacement high capacity well will be drilled to substantially the same
8depth as the existing high capacity well and either will be located within a 75-foot
9radius of the existing high capacity well or will be located farther from the nearest
10groundwater protection area than the existing high capacity well and not be located
11within any other groundwater protection area.
AB874-ASA1,4,1412 3. Reconstruct the existing high capacity well, if the reconstructed high
13capacity well is constructed to substantially the same depth and specifications as the
14existing high capacity well.
AB874-ASA1,4,1615 4. Transfer the approval, concurrent with transferring the land on which the
16approved high capacity well is located, to the person to whom the land is transferred.
AB874-ASA1,4,1717 (b) The department may not impose a fee for any action under this subsection.
AB874-ASA1,4,2218 (c) No later than 90 days after taking any action under par. (a) 2., 3., or 4. the
19owner of the high capacity well shall notify the department of the action taken on a
20form prescribed by the department. For any action taken under par. (a) 2. the owner
21shall, on the same form, notify the department of the location of the replacement high
22capacity well and the method by which the existing well was filled and sealed.
AB874-ASA1,4,2523 (d) Except as provided in sub. (7), the conditions of the existing high capacity
24well approval continue to apply after an owner takes any of the actions under par.
25(a).
AB874-ASA1,5,2
1(e) An owner of a well may not take an action under par. (a) if the action would
2be inconsistent with the conditions of the existing high capacity well approval.
AB874-ASA1,4 3Section 4. 281.34 (7m) of the statutes is created to read:
AB874-ASA1,5,44 281.34 (7m) Designated study area. (a) In this subsection:
AB874-ASA1,5,95 1. "Designated study area" means the area made up of the Fourteenmile Creek
6Watershed in Adams, Juneau, Portage, Waushara, and Wood counties, the Mecan
7River Watershed in Green Lake, Marquette, and Waushara counties, and the Pine
8River and Willow Creek Watershed in Waupaca, Waushara, and Winnebago
9counties.
AB874-ASA1,5,1110 2. "Qualified lake association" means an association that meets the
11qualifications under s. 281.68 (3m) (a).
AB874-ASA1,5,2012 (am) The department shall evaluate and model the hydrology of the designated
13study area, except for any part of the designated study area in which the department
14determines that special measures relating to existing and potential groundwater
15withdrawal are not necessary to prevent or remedy a significant reduction of a
16navigable stream's or navigable lake's rate of flow or water level below its average
17seasonal levels. The evaluation under this paragraph shall include all relevant
18factors that may affect groundwater and water levels and rates of flow of navigable
19waters, including topography, ground cover, annual and seasonal variations in
20precipitation, and plant life.
AB874-ASA1,6,521 (b) If upon conclusion of the evaluation and modeling of the area under par.
22(am) the department determines that special measures relating to existing and
23potential groundwater withdrawal are necessary in all or part of that area to prevent
24or remedy a significant reduction of a navigable stream's or navigable lake's rate of
25flow or water level below its average seasonal levels, the department shall issue a

1decision on whether it recommends that the legislature adopt, by statute, special
2measures relating to groundwater withdrawal in all or part of that area. If the
3department issues a decision recommending that the legislature adopt, by statute,
4special measures relating to groundwater withdrawal in all or part of that area, the
5decision shall contain all of the following information:
AB874-ASA1,6,96 1. A description of the extent to which the department has determined that
7cumulative groundwater withdrawals in all or part of the area cause, or are expected
8to cause, a significant reduction of a navigable stream's or navigable lake's rate of
9flow or water level below its average seasonal levels.
AB874-ASA1,6,1710 1m. A description of the concrete scientific information that the department
11used to establish that there is a hydrologic connection between the groundwater in
12all or part of the area and the navigable waters in all or part of the area and a causal
13relationship between groundwater withdrawal in all or part of the area and an
14existing or potential significant reduction of a navigable stream's or navigable lake's
15rate of flow or water level below its average seasonal levels, and the degree to which
16the department verified the connection and causal relationship by the use of field
17work or field study.
AB874-ASA1,6,2518 2. A description of the geographical boundaries of the area to which the
19department recommends special measures relating to groundwater withdrawal
20should apply. The department shall identify in the description the specific navigable
21water or part of the navigable water that is or may be affected by cumulative
22groundwater withdrawals and shall identify the location of the groundwater
23withdrawals that the department has determined are causing or may cause a
24significant reduction of a navigable stream's or navigable lake's rate of flow or water
25level below its average seasonal levels.
AB874-ASA1,7,4
13. Any proposed special measures in the area described under subd. 2. that the
2department recommends that the legislature adopt, by statute, to prevent or remedy
3a significant reduction of a navigable stream's or navigable lake's rate of flow or
4water level below its average seasonal levels.
AB874-ASA1,7,75 4. An economic impact analysis of the economic effect of the special measures
6recommended under subd. 3. on specific businesses, business sectors, public utility
7ratepayers, local governmental units, and the state's economy as a whole.
AB874-ASA1,7,128 (c) The department shall hold a public informational hearing to solicit
9comments on the department's decision under par. (b). The department shall give
10notice of the hearing to each person who owns land in the area that would be affected
11by the proposed special measures under par. (b) 3. and to each owner of a well in that
12area if the well owner has notified the department of the location of that well.
AB874-ASA1,7,1913 (f) After holding the public hearing under par. (c), the department shall prepare
14a report on whether it recommends that the legislature adopt, by statute, special
15measures relating to groundwater withdrawal in the area described in its decision
16under par. (b) 2. The department shall submit the report to the joint committee on
17finance and to the chief clerk of each house of the legislature, for distribution under
18s. 13.172 (3) to the appropriate legislative standing committees generally
19responsible for legislation related to environmental issues.
AB874-ASA1,8,520 (g) If the department recommends in its report submitted under par. (f) that
21the legislature adopt, by statute, special measures relating to groundwater
22withdrawal in the area described in its decision under par. (b) 2., the department
23shall prepare an additional report specifying the special measures relating to
24groundwater withdrawal in that area that the department recommends that the
25legislature adopt, by statute, to prevent or remedy a significant reduction of a

1navigable stream's or navigable lake's rate of flow or water level below its average
2seasonal levels. The department shall submit the report to the joint committee on
3finance and to the chief clerk of each house of the legislature, for distribution under
4s. 13.172 (3) to the appropriate legislative standing committees generally
5responsible for legislation related to environmental issues.
AB874-ASA1,8,96 (gm) Neither a decision of the department under par. (b) nor a recommendation
7of the department under par. (f) are final decisions. Notwithstanding ss. 227.42 (1)
8and ss. 227.52, no person is entitled to administrative or judicial review of a
9department decision under par. (b) or a department recommendation under par. (f).
AB874-ASA1,8,1210 (h) The special measures relating to groundwater withdrawal recommended
11by the department under par. (b) 3. or par. (g) shall not be effective unless adopted
12by the legislature by statute.
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