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Clean Wisconsin believes court ruling could hurt efforts against mine

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - An environmental group says a State Supreme Court ruling on a lake’s water levels could eventually hurt those filing lawsuits over Gogebic Taconite’s proposed iron ore mine.

Elizabeth Wheeler of Clean Wisconsin says, “We don’t want to backtrack on our strong history on our water as a public resource.”

Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled that the DNR should have taken a possible loss of tourism into account, when it refused to let a lake district raise water levels each summer on Lake Koshkonong in Rock and Jefferson counties.

The agency argued that it’s most important to protect groundwater and people’s health under the state’s Public Trust Doctrine.

Scott Manley of the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce hailed the ruling. He says it’s now clear that the water doctrine applies only to navigable waterways like streams.

The attorney for the lake district, William O’Connor, said the state’s doctrine was not affected all that much. He said the court ruling only affects private wetlands near the lake.