In the last issue of the “Habitat News”, you read about the controversy over the Perrier Group of America (bottling company) efforts to sink high capacity wells in the vicinity of an important state waterway, the Mecan River and Springs. Although that location has been abandoned due to massive public pressure to avoid impacts to this state natural area and trout stream, Perrier has not gone away. Instead, the company is now targeting a less-known site, “Big Springs” in Adams County, central Wisconsin, for a huge bottling facility. Perrier has made a $20,000 “contribution” to the Town of New Haven, close to Big Springs, in an apparent attempt to win support of their bottling initiative. Perrier sent a press release to local and state media announcing their contribution. Fortunately, town residents “smell a fish” and have been attending Town meetings to discourage local officials from allowing the wells in their region. Statewide groups (River Alliance of Wisconsin, Trout Unlimited) have called for an Environmental Impact Statement to be prepared for any high capacity commercial wells proposed for the region.
At present, the DNR has no authority over high capacity wells unless they would impact a municipal water supply. Legislation to regulate high capacity wells was hastily introduced into the State Legislature this spring, but was poorly drafted and did not contain the sort of control measures needed for this type of activity. No bill was passed during the Session.