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WI Supreme Court orders DNR to consider econ impact of lake water levels

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - For the first time, the State Supreme Court has told the DNR to consider the economic impact of the water levels it sets on lakes.

In a 4-3 decision Tuesday, the justices ruled in favor of the Rock-Koshkonong Lake District in Rock and Jefferson counties.

The district said it would increase tourism if it could raise Lake Koshkonong by almost 7.25 inches each summer. But the DNR said no, arguing that it would cause shoreline erosion, and reduce the amount of wetland habitat around the lake.

The Lake District took the case the court in 2005. A Rock County circuit judge and a state appeals court sided with the DNR, saying the agency has the authority to protect public health and lake properties.

The Supreme Court reversed those two court decisions Tuesday, saying the DNR should have considered the district’s testimony on the economic losses caused by lower water levels. 

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