The River Alliance of Wisconsin recently filed a lawsuit, along with five other groups, to challenge “Comm 83,” a Wisconsin land use law that permits new septic technologies to be installed in environmentally-sensitive areas where conventional and mound septic systems are prohibited.
The lawsuit, filed on June 5th in Dane County Circuit Court, charges that the Wisconsin Department of Commerce overstepped its authority in adopting the rule. In the absence of court action, Comm 83 would take effect July 1. Comm 83 will open up an estimated 8.9 million acres to development — more than one-fourth of Wisconsin’s land area.
“We’re moving too fast,” said Tom Miller of Waupaca, board chair of the River Alliance. “We lack data on what Comm 83 could do to the ground water. The Legislature and others could have put this on the slow track. Instead they put it on the fast track.”
“This rule could be the greatest threat to ground water that the state has ever seen,” said Menasha Mayor Joseph Laux, president of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities. “It could also be the catalyst for the greatest explosion of sprawl we’ve ever seen in Wisconsin.”
The lawsuit claims that Comm 83 was developed without regard to standards for protecting the public health and purity of ground water, and that the environmental impact statement for the rule did not account for the lax regulatory language of Comm 83.
The River Alliance is joined in this lawsuit by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Citizens for a Better Environment, 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, the wastewater division of the Municipal Environmental Group and Caledonia Township in Racine County.