The legal drama surrounding a proposed 4,000-head dairy in Adams County, Wis., just became a little more complicated, thanks to a decision by the Wisconsin state budget-writing committee.

According to the Milwaukee (Wis.) Journal Sentinel, the committee voted 12 to 4 in favor of a motion that would “bar persons from challenging construction of a well if a regulator decided not to consider cumulative environmental effects of the well on others.”

The decision could affect the outcome of a lawsuit filed against the proposed $35 million Richfield Dairy, which would be an “economic engine” for local communities.

The state Department of Natural Resources (DNR) initially determined that groundwater used by the dairy wouldn’t harm local supplies but later reconsidered the permit after public outcry and an investigation by a University of Wisconsin hydrogeologist. Months later the DNR re-evaluated the dairy’s permit and decided to approve the dairy’s permits with conditions to protect groundwater and local waterways. Meanwhile, opponents of the dairy filed a lawsuit requesting judicial review of the DNR’s decision.

When operating, the dairy’s two high-capacity wells would supply nearly 52.2 million gallons of water annually with a capacity to pump 100,000 gallons of water daily.

Next month, a case hearing at the DNR will look whether the agency should consider similar impacts. Other issues are before the State Court of Appeals.

The committee’s decision now goes to the Assembly and the Senate. If approved, it will then go to Gov. Scott Walker.

Read, “Wisconsin budget panel limits challenges to large wells.”