DNR Moves Forward with Costly Phosphorus Rule

The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board this month announced plans to hold hearings on a controversial proposed administrative rule that would place significantly more stringent phosphorus limits for Wisconsin lakes and rivers.

According to the DNR’s analysis of the rule, it would force municipalities and sanitary districts to spend up to $1.13 billion to comply with the new provisions. Moreover, the DNR estimates that “up to 35 facilities could have stringent effluent limitations” costing up to $440 million.

DNR officials claim that if it does not adopt a rule, the EPA will have the authority to do so. In addition, DNR argues that it was forced to propose the phosphorus limitations based on a notice of intent to sue by environmental groups.  

The rule has two components: 1)  a set of phosphorus water quality standards criteria for rivers, streams, various types of lakes, and Great Lakes; 2) procedures for determining and incorporating phosphorus water quality based effluent limitations into Wisconsin Discharge Pollutant System (WPDES) permits under chapter 283, Wisconsin Statutes.