Lake Geneva lakefront owners want to restrict water feeding the White River while watering their massive lawns and flower beds with lake water.

The dam in Lake Geneva was created to increase the water level in the 1800s. The current Lake Geneva Bay shore line was about 60 feet from its current location. The Geneva Lake Level Corp. (GLLC) got a permit from the DNR to build a new dam, which the taxpayers paid for, in 2003. The permit from the DNR had a requirement that a specified amount of water would have to be released into the White River to maintain a healthy ecosystem. In 2010, 2011 and 2012 the DNR had to force the GLLC to release the amount of water they agreed to, to prevent a massive fish kill in the White River. The beginning of the White River between the dam and Burger King is in a pathetic wasteland of its former self. It used to be a vibrant ecosystem where countless children fished, caught crawdads, and enjoyed a small-scale Huck Finn lifestyle.  It is not just this beginning of the White River that is being threaten by the greedy lakefront plutocrats, but the entire White River to Burlington that as of yet has not been turned into an ecological wasteland by the GLLC’s stingyness.

The GLLC is using the same old money trumps the environment argument, a drop in the lake level will “affect the economic health of the area. “ That 8 inch drop in the lake level will drive away the tourists (sic). The summer of 2012 was a great year for tourists and a nice bonus of the drought was that the water was exceptionally warm and almost weeds free. You see less rain, less runoff, less pollution feeding the weeds. If they were really concerned about the amount of water in Lake Geneva they would be pushing to stop lakefront owners from pumping water out of the lake to water their lawns, condo projects, and golf courses. The amount of water being pumped has to be massive; at least 50% of the lakefront is irrigated with lake water. Condo projects like Vista Del Lago have huge industrial size pumps on the lake.

Why do rich lakefront property owners prefer to water their lawns with lake water instead of municipal water? Money, it is a lot more expensive to use muni water  to irrigate ,then to pump an unlimited amount yourself out of the lake, and unlike the rest of Lake Geneva residents who want to keep up a nice lush green lawn during a drought, they want to do it on the cheap and trash the White River between Lake Geneva and Burlington to do it, during a once in 60 year drought; -nice.

The lakefront people get away with pumping an unlimited amount of water because of a loophole – the rich know them all. In Wisconsin agriculture can irrigate crops from streams and lakes, hence so can they.

Now the GLLC has hired lawyers and consultants to intimidate the DNR to let them out of requirement to release any amount of water to the White River. Lake Geneva is the headwaters of the White River, stop the water, kill the river. The White river is used by countless local residents for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing; it is also becoming a tourist attraction for kayaking. But you can’t drive a Cobalt down it.

The GLLC arguments for cutting off water to the White River are as follows:

  • Boaters in Abby Harbor have a hard time getting out of the harbor because of lower lake levels.
    Abby Harbor was dredged from a wetland. Today that couldn’t be done. If the harbor is filling in (converting back to a wetland) that is the Abby’s problem.
  • An 8” lower lake level will make the lake less appealing to tourists.
    Yes this summer the lake was cleaner than it ever has been and warmer. The tourists were running away for the lake is horror (sic).
  • Lake Geneva’s watershed is small for the size of the lake.
    That is a very good thing, which is why the lake is relatively clean (clear) in comparison to other lakes in Wisconsin. Less runoff, less pollution (nitrates). The lake’s surfaces area to watershed ratio is 4:1; most lakes in Wisconsin have a ratio of 40:1, just look at Lake Delevan if you want to see what 40:1 looks like.
  • A fear that the ice this winter will shift the pier cribs.
    Most cribs are usually 3 to 6 feet below the surface. If some idiot put a crib so close to shore that ice would affect it so what. You can’t outlaw stupidity. In the last 13 years the lake has not totally frozen over three years. Forty years ago the ice would always freeze 2 to 4 feet thick; you could drive a car from Lake Geneva to Fontana on the ice. It used to be below zero degrees F for weeks at a time, now it is a rare occurrence. Global warming is real, and it is going to affect everyone’s environment.

Why are the rich lakefront plutocrats going nuclear because of an 8” drop if the lake level? After all the lake is a very deep shore line lake, up to 150 feet deep in areas. Because rich people usually don’t get that way by having their head up their ass, and global warming is real, and is accelerating, and the world powers are not going to do anything about it except talk. They want to lock down the lake water for their lawns, and their flower beds before the rest of us wake up.