DNR Awards $6 Million To Improve Water Quality

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) announced approximately $6 million in grant funding to lake organizations, nonprofit organizations and also municipal and county governments throughout Wisconsin. Funding will be used to help restore and protect the state’s surface water resources in 2024 as well as beyond. The FY24 Surface Water Grants Proposed Funding List can be found on the DNR’s Surface Water webpage.

This year, the program received 428 applications from eligible applicants requesting over $9.1 million in funding. The selected projects are incredibly diverse. They include education and outreach activities, management planning, habitat restoration, runoff management, water quality improvement projects and also aquatic invasive species control.

“The amount of work happening at the local level to support our lakes, rivers as well as watersheds is incredible. It’s amazing to see the level of communication and coordination between members of these organizations, local government representatives, DNR Biologists as well as other stakeholders,” says DNR Surface Water Grant Program Manager Jen Jefferson. “The effort it takes to develop such meaningful projects is commendable.”

Each year, the program supports many local and regional partnerships working to improve water quality across counties and watersheds. A few examples of the work recipients will perform include:

  • Foxhead Regenerative Agriculture Project plans to conduct education and outreach to increase soil and water health in Green Lake and also Fond du Lac counties.
  • Coon Creek Community Watershed Council Inc. will continue to support the development of a Nine Key Element watershed plan. This will provide a framework for improving water quality in Vernon, La Crosse and Monroe counties.
  • Vilas County will work with local organizations and volunteers to install shoreline best management practices.

Altogether, Healthy Lakes and Rivers grants were awarded to 24 organizations to implement effective and inexpensive practices that are proven to improve habitat and water quality. These organizations engage private shoreline owners and assist them with the installation of five types of projects. They include fish sticks, native shoreline plantings, water runoff diversions, stormwater infiltration systems and rain gardens. To learn more about this subprogram, check out Healthy Lakes and Rivers’ website.

Finally, 145 organizations will receive support to participate in the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program. 38 organizations will receive support to participate in the Lake Monitoring and Protection Network. As part of the Clean Boats, Clean Waters program, local advocates focus on education and outreach to empower watercraft users to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. The Lake Monitoring and Protection Network supports lake monitoring and aquatic invasive species prevention activities on a county basis.

For more information or to find a Surface Water Grant project in your community, visit the DNR’s Surface Water webpage.