Judge tosses well permits, citing waterway protections

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) _ A Dane County judge has tossed out eight high-capacity well permits the state had granted to businesses, citing the constitutional protection of Wisconsin waterways. 

Circuit Judge Valerie Bailey-Rihn issued a decision Wednesday in a case brought by the conservation group Clean Wisconsin. It said the Department of Natural Resources issued the permits despite concerns from its own scientists about the substantial impact the massive water withdrawals could have on vulnerable lakes, streams and drinking water supplies. 

The case highlights a longstanding controversy over high-capacity wells and their impact on waterways and aquatic life, especially in central Wisconsin.

Under pressure from industrial well users and a Republican-controlled Legislature, the DNR made a policy change in June 2016 that led to approval of 190 high-capacity well permits in a matter of months.

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