DNR adopts opinion, won’t consider wells’ cumulative effects

Village of Union Center advises residents not to drink tap water

Department of Natural Resources officials say they won’t consider high-capacity wells’ cumulative effects in permit decisions after Attorney General Brad Schimel said they lack such authority.

The DNR had been considering whether a well combined with other wells around it would adversely affect state’s waters. But Schimel, a Republican, issued a legal opinion last month saying state law doesn’t give the DNR authority to consider wells’ cumulative effects.

The agency quietly posted a frequently asked questions page on its website Friday that it will abide by Schimel’s opinion. DNR spokesman James Dick issued a statement saying the agency has traditionally followed all formal attorney general opinions.

Elizabeth Wheeler, an attorney for environmental advocacy group Clean Wisconsin, said in a news release that the move leaves Wisconsin’s waters unprotected.