Midwest Environmental Advocates is a nonprofit environmental law center that works for healthy water, air, land and government for this generation and the next. We believe that every citizen has the potential to make a difference.

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Lake Beulah “Friend of the Court” Brief

— Midwest Environmental Advocates worked with environmental groups to advocate for the public trust doctrine and protect the surface and groundwaters of our state.

Case Summary

In January 2011, Midwest Environmental Advocates filed an Amicus Curiae, or "friend of the Court", brief on behalf of Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, River Alliance of Wisconsin and Clean Wisconsin, in Lake Beulah Management District v. DNR, a Wisconsin Supreme Court case that sought to determine the Department of Natural Resources' authority to regulate high capacity wells and establish DNR's duty to consider the impact of such wells on the state's surface waters.

Midwest Environmental Advocates and our Amicus clients maintained that the Court of Appeals decision in this case properly upheld a rational interpretation of the public trust doctrine within the framework of Wisconsin's high capacity well permitting statutes in keeping with the State of Wisconsin's Constitution. We argued that the DNR has the expressly granted authority to consider evidence of adverse impacts to state waters, including those affected by high capacity well withdrawals. Midwest Environmental Advocates maintained that the Court of Appeals ruling protected vital economic and ecological interests, including Wisconsin's highly-prized cold water trout population and groundwater-dependent endangered species. Midwest Environmental Advocates and our clients advocated for an interpretation of DNR's authority that upholds the public trust doctrine and protects the precious waters of our state for the use and enjoyment of Wisconsin citizens, now and into the future.

In July 2011, the Court ruled that the Wisconsin DNR has the authority and, in fact, a duty to consider potential adverse impacts posed by proposed high capacity wells if presented with concrete, scientific evidence of the potential for harm to state waters during the well permitting process.

Midwest Environmental Advocates and our Amicus clients believe that the Supreme Court’s decision in this case properly upheld a rational interpretation of the public trust doctrine and that the decision will serve to protect vital economic and ecological interests.