When farmers pump huge quantities of groundwater to irrigate fields, the water levels of surrounding streams, rivers and lakes may sink—causing a flood of controversy. Some people want to irrigate farm fields; others want their surface waters left untouched, unsiphoned, and brimming.
These twenty engaging, informative, and often colorful essays present opinions about how groundwater should be used, allocated, and preserved in Wisconsin—opinions of farmers, conservationists, lakeshore owners, government officials, and longtime Wisconsin residents. The editors hope these diverse points of view will illuminate the problem of groundwater and surface water use, and will stimulate discussion that may identify fair and effective strategies for preserving these two closely linked water resources (60 pages, August 2011).
From the essays: “Initially when the lake pretty much vanished, I was angry every time I saw an irrigation spigot spraying water in the air, even during rainstorms.” “What was a minor agricultural use of groundwater has become one of geologic dimension, a 25 billion gallon annual use . . . [which] amounts to adding a second, third and fourth Wisconsin River disgorging from the center of the state for a period of three months every summer, each at a rate of 10,000 cubic feet per second. Irrigation, as now practiced, is a geologic component as real as if new rivers were suddenly pierced in the side of the Wisconsin landscape.” “The future of the Wisconsin vegetable industry is tied to having access to the water resources of the state.”“While there are places where we need not consider the close linkage of surface and groundwater, the Central Sands is not one of them—here they are clearly one resource.”
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