With New Land Purchase, Carlin Lake Water Dispute Seems Finally Over

Jan 20, 2021

The entrance drive to the Carlin Club.
Credit Ben Meyer/WXPR

People living on Carlin Lake near Presque Isle believe their battle is finally over.

For six years, they’ve been fighting to block a proposed drinking water extraction and bottling operation near the lake.

But a land purchase seems to have closed all efforts to take and sell water from the area.

Five of the plaintiffs who fought to stop water pumping and trucking from near Carlin Lake. In the front row, from left to right, are Ramona Kubica and Barbara LaPean. In the back row, from left to right, are Cecil Davis, Carmen Farwell, and Mary Watkins.
Credit Ben Meyer/WXPR

“We know that the property has been sold and, for the first time, to a private owner who intends to use that beautiful lakefront property for his private purposes,” said Carmen Farwell of the Carlin Lake committee.

The process started in 2015 with a plan by a business group led by Trig Solberg, the owner of Trig’s supermarkets. He wanted to pump water from the property of the Carlin Club, a restaurant and resort on remote Carlin Lake in Vilas County, for commercial sale. The plan called for sending three tanker trucks daily down a narrow residential road to collect the water.

Since that time, lake residents like Ramona Kubica have been fighting the plan. We visited Kubica and others in 2019 for WXPR’s The Stream.

“It all boils down to, you are trying to protect your water resources. You’re trying to protect your other resources. It’s the noise. It’s the fumes. It’s the trucks in and out on a narrow driveway,” Kubica said then.

The Nov. 14, 2019, Vilas Co. Board of Adjustment hearing to consider water pumping from near Carlin Lake.
Credit Ben Meyer/WXPR

Over the years, the proposal was rejected by multiple circuit court judges, a state appeals court, the Vilas County Zoning Administrator, and twice by the Vilas County Board of Adjustment.

But the new purchaser of the property seems to have no commercial interests, Farwell said.

“Once the property went up for sale and it was sold to a regular person who intends to have his regular family come and visit, we believed that that business threat no longer existed,” she said.

Farwell said people living on the lake will miss gathering and eating at the Carlin Club, but they’re relieved the fight over water resources seems to be over.

“We learned that we had this huge support of other people with similar interests, people that lived on lake frontages and knew that this threat was a true one. A network of support, and people being able to work together, was terrific.”