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Contact information
For information on compliance audits, contact:
Laurel Sukup
608-267-6817
Cell 608-381-3176
Fax 608-267-9305

Frequently asked questions about Wisconsin's Environmental Compliance Audit Program

If you have ever wanted to confirm that your business or facility was in compliance with DNR environmental regulations and you’d like to limit forfeitures if violations are found, Wisconsin’s Environmental Compliance Audit Program (program) is for you. You, or an independent auditor you select, can determine environmental compliance on one or more environmental regulations applicable to your facility. If any violations are discovered, you will have 90 days or potentially up to one year to correct them while you are shielded from civil enforcement.

How much will this cost?

The cost of the audit will be proportional to the scope of the investigation and the fee charged if you hire an auditor. The incentive to you is that for any violations discovered, the forfeiture, if any, is capped at $500 per violation regardless of how long it has occurred. If the violation is corrected within 90 days, there is no other liability. An approved schedule to correct a violation can be extended to one year with DNR approval. However, the limited forfeiture does not apply to:

  • violations that present an imminent threat or cause serious harm to public health or the environment;
  • violations discovered by DNR before submission of an audit report; or
  • violations that were known before the audit began.
Why was the program created?

The program was created for companies that strive to keep in compliance with environmental regulations. It provides assurance that you will not be subject to large forfeitures for voluntarily reporting violations discovered during a compliance audit. The program was modeled after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's audit policy and was included in the 2004 Environmental Results Act (Wisconsin Act 276).

Am I eligible?

Participation in the program is open to any public or private entity. To be eligible for the program, the DNR shall consider whether the Wisconsin Department of Justice has, within 2 years, filed a suit to enforce an environmental violation involving your facility. If the DNR determines that, because of the nature of the violation in the suit, your participation may damage the integrity of the program, DNR shall provide notice that you are not eligible for participation.

How do I participate?
  • At least 30 days prior to starting an audit, submit a Notice of Intent to Perform an Environmental Improvement Program Audit (4800-021) [PDF] to DNR.
  • An audit conducted by or on behalf of the owner and operator of a facility reviews environmental compliance on one or more environmental regulations provided on your notice of intent form.
  • Within 365 days of the notice of intent, submit a report on the audit findings using the Environmental Compliance Audit Report Template (Form 4800-023) [PDF] or in a format that provides the same information.
  • For any violations discovered, disclose them in the audit report and include a compliance schedule stating when they will be corrected.
  • Correct any violations within 90 days or within a compliance schedule agreement with DNR. The DNR cannot agree to a schedule that extends beyond 12 months.
  • For corrections to any violations extending beyond 90 days, you should verify your intention to complete your compliance schedule and provide a dollar amount you will forfeit if you fail to meet your deadline (stipulated penalties).
Is there any other information I need to know?
  • Audit intent notice - The notice of intent form must be filed at least 30 days prior to starting the audit and must describe the operations or practices to be reviewed during the audit and describe the general scope of the audit. A responsible official must sign the form to acknowledge that the program does not apply to violations discovered prior to the audit.
  • Audit report - Within 45 days of the auditor submitting the final written audit report to the participant, and within 365 days of the notice of intent, the participant must submit the audit report to DNR. The report must include the audit date, identity of the auditor, what was examined, what was found and any violations revealed.
    • Reporting violations - For all violations reported in the audit report, the following information is required:
      • description of each violation;
      • description of the actions taken or proposed to be taken to correct the violations;
      • schedule of compliance to correct the violation; and
      • proposed actions to prevent future violations.
  • Limited forfeitures - For violations that are corrected within 90 days, or within a DNR approved compliance schedule, the DNR has the option of excusing the violation or issuing a citation to collect forfeitures up to $500 per violation regardless of the number of days it continued. Violations excluded from the provisions of this act are:
    • violations that present an imminent threat or cause serious harm to public health or the environment;
    • violations discovered by DNR before submission of an audit report;
    • violations that provided a substantial economic benefit;
    • violations found during required monitoring;
    • repeat violations; and
    • violations discovered by the participant before the audit.
  • Violations that exceeds 90 days to correct - For violations that cannot be corrected within 90 days the audit report must include:
    • a compliance schedule for correcting the violations;
    • a justification of the proposed compliance schedule;
    • a description of measures taken to minimize the effects of the violations in the interim; and
    • a proposed stipulated penalty amount for failure to comply with their proposed compliance schedule. This provides an incentive to stick to the schedule but, if due to unforeseen circumstances the corrections are delayed, the participant knows the financial obligation.
  • Correction schedules and stipulated penalties - Compliance schedules cannot exceed one year and stipulated penalties cannot extend more than six months beyond the end of the schedule. The proposed schedule and stipulated penalties will be reviewed by DNR and it is anticipated they will generally be satisfactory. However if not satisfactory, DNR will negotiate with the participant to attempt to produce an acceptable result.
  • Public notice of violations - When the participant and DNR agree on a compliance schedule that extends beyond 90 days and stipulated penalties, the audit results and the proposed solution will be publicly noticed in a newspaper and on the DNR website. The notice will identify the entity and include information about the violation. The public is allowed 30 days to submit comments on the proposed schedule and any stipulated penalties. The DNR will evaluate all public comments before finalizing a schedule and stipulated penalties. This only applies to violations that are not expected to be corrected within 90 days.
  • Enforcement component - If a participant does not meet their compliance schedule, DNR will collect the stipulated penalties. Uncorrected violations would be subject to regular stepped enforcement processes which may include referral for civil action to collect forfeitures that would not be limited to $500.
Last revised: Wednesday February 08 2017