DNR Plans to Revise State Water Codes

December 5, 2012
In April 2012, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) launched a comprehensive review of rules impacting small business, which was prompted by Governor Walker’s “Executive Order #61-- Relating to Job Creation and Small Business Expansion”” issued on February 22, 2012.  This order required all state agencies to cooperate with the Small Business Regulatory Review Board to identify existing rules hindering job creation and small business growth, and to make recommended changes to rules to reduce burden on small businesses.  
DNR is recommending repealing or modifying twenty-eight rules and one statute. These revisions, which will be addressed by the State Natural Resources Board at their December 12th meeting, were originally presented as a general housekeeping effort to get rid of antiquated rules, incorporate changes from recently passed legislation, and improve government efficiency.  

Some of the proposed changes are of a housekeeping nature, but the proposed code revisions to NR102, NR104, and NR207 would drastically change several of Wisconsin’s fundamental water rules, which determine how waters are classified (according to recreational use and the types of fish and wildlife that use them), how permits are issued, and how much pollution is allowed into local waterways.  The proposed changes to these rules are way beyond the scope of this exercise and represent significant policy changes that may weaken environmental protection and public health.

While there is definitely room for improvement, proposed changes to these water rules should be vetted through the usual rulemaking process, which allows for extensive public input.
Milwaukee Riverkeeper participated in a meeting with DNR to discuss our issues, and has also signed onto comments by the River Alliance of Wisconsin as well as Midwest Environmental Advocates. 

*Update: The DNR has repealed its recommendations that alter water codes. This is good news for water advocates across the state.

Click on the attachment below to read the comments in full.
2012 DNR retrospective rules revision comments.pdf193.87 KB