The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources says it has gotten a few dozen requests from farmers who want to draw water from nearby lakes and streams to irrigate their drought-stricken operations.
Earlier this month, Gov. Scott Walker declared a state of emergency in 42 counties suffering from drought or near-drought conditions. Among other things, the declaration freed the DNR to approve permit requests in days for farmers who wish to draw water from lakes and streams to help with irrigation. Marty Griffin is the Wisconsin DNR’s Statewide Waterway Science and Policy Coordinator. He's surprised with the level of interest. 30 permits have been approved so far: far more than other declarations. He says the severity of the drought is the big reason why. “[The farmers] are looking for any way they can to irrigate and also they’re situations where someone has actually been irrigating with a well and the well might have dried up, so they’re looking for another source.”
More recently, Gov. Walker extended the Drought Emergency Declaration to the entire state. Griffin expects more permit requests.