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DNR Says Temporary Irrigation Rule is Already Helping Producers
Wisconsin Ag Connection - 07/26/2012

Wisconsin farmers didn't waste any time in utilizing a state drought emergency declaration earlier this month that helps expedite requests to divert stream or lake water to irrigate crop fields. State Natural Resources Secretary Cathy Stepp says her agency has approved 44 emergency irrigation permits since July 9, of which 38 were issued on the same day request were submitted.

"We understand the urgency," Stepp said. "DNR staff are making quick decisions on emergency irrigation requests and will work with farmers to make water available whenever possible while still protecting the resources of sensitive streams and lakes."

Because of the drought conditions, some streams are already dry or very low and could not be tapped for irrigation purposes. But DNR officials say the special rule is helping many producers that otherwise would have lost all of their crops.

The executive orders declaring a state of drought emergency will last through September 18 and provide for expedited requests of temporary irrigation permits for the purpose of agriculture crop irrigation. To qualify, the farmer has to be the owner of the land adjacent to the lake and stream, and diverted water can only be used on the land contiguous to the waterway.

Permits can only be granted if there is surplus water to be withdrawn, and the withdrawal will not cause adverse effects on the environment.

Stepp says the temporary irrigation permits are valid for 30 days.

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