Governor Scott Walker has declared a state of emergency in areas of the state suffering from drought or near-drought conditions. The order allows the DNR up to quickly address permit requests by farmers in 42 Wisconsin counties to divert water from local lakes and streams for irrigation. Marty Griffin is the Wisconsin DNR’s Statewide Waterway Science and Policy Coordinator. He says the permit process that normally would take months, could be approved in days. But, he says, there is no guarantee there will be water to tap into. "Most the time the people who make the requests see what it looks like out there and know that its not any worth while applying for some sort of surplus water because its obvious that there isn’t any."
The governor’s executive order also means DNR staff don’t have to notify the public. Griffin says permits approved under the Governor’s drought emergency declaration will last for 30 days. Farmers have the next 60 days to apply for a permit.