Wisconsin Supreme Court to decide public water disputes

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Supreme Court will take up a series of legal disputes that could have far-reaching implications for state regulators' power to protect public waters from pollution and overuse.

The Wisconsin State Journal reports that a state court of appeals panel asked the high court on Wednesday to settle 10 lawsuits over natural resources, which have been consolidated into two cases.

The high court's rulings will determine the balance of power between lawmakers and state regulators.

The cases stem from conservationists wanting to preserve the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' authority to protect public water rights and enforce clean water standards. But business groups are pushing to keep power in the hands of elected politicians who can be held accountable if the state goes too far and harms profits.

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