Little Plover River Still Getting Sucked Dry

This is a guest blog by Barbara Gifford from Friends of the Little Plover River.

Little Plover River, WI | © Jim Gifford

© Jim Gifford

Ask Wisconsin’s Governor and Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to enforce the Public Rights Flow of the Little Plover River

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SAD NEWS: These continue to be very troubling times for the Little Plover River (LPR) which was listed as 2013 4th Most Endangered River® in America. If you remember our story, we are that ‘little blue’ dot, a Class I Trout Stream, in the middle of Wisconsin’s Central Sands. This ‘historic’ river resides in Portage County which is the #1 user of groundwater in the state and 83.20% of that is for agricultural irrigation.

The newly released 2012 Department Natural Resource (DNR) Groundwater Withdrawal Report numbers are alarming to many in the community and irrigation withdrawals nearly doubled from 2011.

Some groundwater users are now saying ‘it’s the effects of global warming… if that is the rationale then it behooves us all to act now and quickly embrace the science and move immediately forward by putting in place a sensible groundwater management plan.

In the meantime where does that leave the Little Plover River? The LPR is still getting sucked dry… it’s flow, time after time, repeatedly drops below the Public Rights Flow (PRF) stage issued by the DNR in 2009, that’s 4 years ago, and the DNR has yet to enforce it’s own rules. The DNR, to no avail, has been officially asked to enforce the PRF both in 2012 and 2013… no ‘real’ help yet.

So what is this beleaguered river, now the ‘Poster Child’ for other lakes and rivers, lowered by excessive, every increasing, groundwater withdrawals in Wisconsin’s Central Sands, to do now?

The DNR’s ‘set’ response has been ‘we’ll have another study’… note, the LPR is already one of the most studied rivers in America. This ‘new study’ is already 9 months behind… no funding… no contracts… only two known meetings… and no plan… stalled! So, where are we? Nowhere, and why has the ‘new study’ not progressed? Could it be we already know how to save the LPR and other Central Wisconsin Lakes and Rivers?

The Secretary of the Department Natural Resource, now held by Cathy Stepp, is a politically appointed position by the current Governor Scott Walker … these are the people who should embrace the science and move forward a ‘sensible’ groundwater management plan.

When the discussion is about WATER… it is not about ‘they win’ or ‘we win’… this is about ALL OF US WINNING.

GOOD NEWS is the level of conversation and public awareness has dramatically increased!

Ask Wisconsin’s Governor and Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources to enforce the Public Rights Flow of the Little Plover River which would limit the pumping of the very groundwater that gives it life. This would help protect communities that rely on healthy Wisconsin waters.