Feltz Testimony

Barb Feltz
4127 County Rd R
Stevens Point, WI 54482
Little Plover River Workgroup
Friends of the Little Plover River

I live near the headwaters of the Little Plover

Thank you Representatives Black and Molepske for your hard work in trying to bring resolution to an extremely heated issue that will only grow in intensity and costs in years to come.

Thank you to the Natural Resources Committee, all the sponsors and workgroup members of the groundwater protection bill (AB844/SB 320) for recognizing that the states #1 Natural Resource is in need of regulation to maximize its value for all the people of the state of Wisconsin.

The Story of the Little Plover

One might say that such a story is currently “a hot potato”… in reality The Little Plover River (LPR) has been a topic of conflict and controversy for more than 50 years.
The value of the LPR was formally recognized by the State of Wisconsin in 1959 with the creation of the LPR Fishery Area. The LPR Fishery Area is comprised of 254 acres and contains approximately 1.5 miles of the 5 miles that makes up the LPR.  http://dnr.wi.gov/org/land/facilities/fisheryareas/1470littleploverriver.html (see attached #1)

My personal knowledge of the LPR began when I was a young girl. I first heard my grandfather, a town supervisor and LPR landowner, rant and rave that he could take better care of the Little Plover than the State of Wisconsin. He was angry at the time because he felt the State was using undue pressure to try and make him sell his land to create the LPR Fishery Area. As this conflict and controversy over the creation of the LPR Fishery Area was brewing, the groundbreaking “Hydrology of the Little Plover River Basin Portage County, Wisconsin and the Effects of Water Resource Development Study” was being conducted by E.P. Weeks, D.W. Ericson and C. L. R. Holt JR (1965). http://pubs.er.usgs.gov/usgspubs/wsp/wsp1811  This study confirmed that pumping from high capacity wells could decrease the flow in the Little Plover River. From this point until the present time high cap wells have been added to the watershed and the surrounding aquifers without regulation or planning for groundwater.

30 years later, State ground water modeling was provided to local leaders indicating that the proposed Plover wells would dry up the Little Plover (see attached #2). In 2005 the LPR went dry in front of my house and I was soon awakened to the fact that the State owned LPR Fishery Area was not going to protect the LPR. Both my grandfather’s and the State of Wisconsin’s efforts had failed to sustain this class I trout stream for the next generation.  

In 2005 “The Friends of the Little Plover River” asked then DNR Secretary Scott Hassett, to investigate and help facilitate solutions to this problem (see attached #3).  In 2006 a volunteer “good faith effort” Little Plover Work Group was formed. I have been a member of the Little Plover Work Group since its inception.  After meeting for 3+ years the group has increased the level of awareness, unfortunately the group has failed to deliver results as the LPR still goes dry and no measurable increase in flow has occurred (see attached#4) due to;

•    The inability to agree to common goals, a management plan and timeline.
•    The constant disregard for state supplied data and modeling.
•    The group going into “seizures” anytime the word “conservation” is mentioned.

After all of this, one common alarming theme keeps coming from the Local Leaders and Ag Interest “We can take better care of the Little Plover than Big Brother, the State of Wisconsin DNR” (see attached#5).  Actions and facts stand in stark contrast to this position.  The actions outside of the work group include;

•    Local municipalities announce expansion and addition of sewer systems (see attached #6).
•    Installation of high cap wells as fast as possible (apparently, to be in front of the pending ground water legislation).

At the present time the State of Wisconsin, Local Municipalities, Agricultural Interests, and the Work Group have control of very little in terms of ground water.  Currently ground water use in the state of Wisconsin is a free for all…Who ever pumps fastest and deepest gets it. The Little Plover River Fishery Area is and has been destroyed by the same interests that are asking you to let them continue to take care of it.  I hope we can all learn from 50 years of experience because without a higher authority specifying a target and timeline mandate the damage to the LPR and the conflict and controversy will continue.  Working together is the answer, but results won’t come about without boundaries and deadlines.

Please pass this bill now for the following reasons:

•    It will prevent what has happened to the LPR from happening elsewhere.
•    It provides the authority structure needed to allow local efforts a chance to succeed.
•    It maximizes the long term economic gain from a “State” of Wisconsin Public Trust resource.

Thank you very much for your time.  Do you have any questions?