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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Little Plover Gets A Lifeline

DNR sets minimum flows for stream that’s been dried up by groundwater pumping

Late last week, the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources set a “public rights flow order” for the Little Plover River, in Portage County.

The Little Plover made national news in the summer of 2005 when its flow dried up completely. It has either dried up completely or been reduced to a trickle several times since. Hydrologists have determined that large wells pumping groundwater for urban uses and for farming were the cause of the river going dry. The river was a good case study for how the pumping of groundwater and the fate of nearby surface waters are integrally connected.

Two years ago, the River Alliance, Trout Unlimited, the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, Plover River Alliance and Friends of the Tomorrow/Waupaca petitioned the DNR to set a public rights flow for the Little Plover.

A public rights flow is a metaphoric mark on the river bank, below which the river level should not go. (Actually, the flow is measured in cubic feet per second.) A work group comprised of groundwater users and conservation interests have been meeting for over two years to figure out how to keep the river from drying up. Click hear for a news story that appeared on the Wisconsin Public Radio airwaves. (Scroll down to for the March 25th stories)

The order takes effect immediately, and it will get its first public airing at a meeting of the Little Plover work group on April 8.

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