Public Asked To Help Prioritize Work On Water Quality Standards

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering the public a chance to rank which issues the DNR should focus on over the next three years to protect water quality in lakes, streams and rivers. This process is called the Triennial Standards Review and is required by the Clean Water Act. The DNR is providing online tools, a comment period and a public hearing to gather public input.

The DNR is asking the public to complete an online form to rank 15 specific topics, indicating which ones should be the DNR’s top 5 priorities.

“The Clean Water Act specifies what types of issues are covered under the triennial review,” said Kristi Minahan, DNR water quality standards specialist. “The topics focus on setting goals for water quality, mainly related to setting thresholds for different types of pollutants.”

The topic ranking form and a description of each topic are available on the DNR’s website starting today. Certain topics are not included in this review.

“While important, the triennial review does not cover topics related to implementation to achieve those goals, like management practices for agriculture or stormwater,” said Minahan. “Other DNR programs handle those efforts.”

Specifically, topics that will be evaluated in the 2021-2023 review include policies, rules and guidance related to waterbodies’ designated uses, water quality criteria, antidegradation and variances. The list of 15 topics includes some that were suggested by the public and partners in an earlier phase of the process.

The DNR will also hold a public hearing and webinar to describe the topics, answer questions and take comments. The ranking form and any additional comments may be submitted until Dec. 4, 2020. The public hearing will be held online at 1 p.m. on Nov. 16 and may also be joined by phone. Public hearing details are available on the DNR’s public hearings calendar.

After the comment period closes, the DNR will prioritize the topics based on input from the public, technical staff and partners, and prepare a final prioritized list of items to work on over the next three years. The prioritized list is expected to be completed this winter. When the workplan is complete, work will begin on the priority topics. 

The DNR appreciates all input on protecting Wisconsin’s water quality. For more information on the Triennial Standards Review process and past reviews, click here.