well water rights

Asked April 21, 2016, 10:14 AM EDT

I have a question about well water rights
my neighbor had 2000 dairy cows up until 2012 when they added 1500 more.
The well on our property was working properly until the summer of 2013 when it was pumped
dry and the water becomes cloudy and is a mixture of air and water. Sometimes during the
summer months even filling up the washing machine will take up to 1/2 hour to fill.
we never had any issues before 2013,the well is 44 years old but works great the rest of the year.we only have problems with quantity during june through august. We believe it is due to more cattle after
2012 and during the summer months due to the cows drinking more and through natural evaporation.They are now planning a 4000 plus dairy expansion only 200 yards away from the existing dairy.I have talked to the DNR and they aren't much help...they just seem to want the new dairy set up.I am frustrated to say the least.Are there laws or situations like this you are aware of? The Dnr thinks I should drill a new well, but If my neighbor is sucking my well dry I shouldn't be footing the bill. I had the well tested and it had coliform and .7 arsenic and is deemed unsafe to drink.

Lafayette County Wisconsin

3 Responses


Your question addresses two issues: arsenic and high-capacity wells/groundwater supply. I can direct you to information about these issues.

Arsenic: Arsenic occurs naturally in groundwater throughout the state. Here are two sources of information about the issue.

Arsenic Fact Sheet - Wisconsin Groundwater Coordinating Council

Information for private well owners – Central Wisconsin Groundwater Center, UW-Stevens Point (note specific information about arsenic farther down on the page)

Despite state efforts, arsenic continues to poison many private wells in Wisconsin – WisconsinWatch.org

High-Capacity Wells: As recently as February-March 2016, the Wisconsin State Legislature worked on but did not pass a bill on high-capacity wells in Wisconsin. This issue has gotten most visibility for the impact on the groundwater shortages in the Central Sands region of the state around Stevens Point. You may want to contact your legislators to let them know how this issue affects you in Lafayette County.

Senate Bill 239 – Wisconsin State Legislature

High-capacity well bill likely dead for this session – NBC15.com

Project: Groundwater Supply – WisconsinWatch.org

the dairy farm in question does not use high capacity wells, it has 4 wells at 70 gallons per minute.
As I understand it these are not high capacity wells by law or the dnr.
Even if I was going to only water the lawn for example, don't I have some rights to the water
under my property when my neighbor is sucking my well dry?

Hello again,

I made some inquiries to find additional contacts for you to reach out to. The following individuals may provide more assistance.

Kevin Masarik
Center for Watershed Science and Education
UW-Stevens Point

Wisconsin DNR - Water Use Section