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Triennial Standards Review

Status of current TSR cycle (2015–17)

Sunset Lake Photo

Every three years, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) reviews Wisconsin's water quality standards or related guidance for development or revision during the following three years. This comprehensive evaluation, called the Triennial Standards Review (TSR), is required by the federal Clean Water Act and is an essential process to keep Wisconsin's waters swimmable, fishable, drinkable and suitable for use by industry, agriculture and the citizens of the state. This review helps focus WDNR efforts to integrate the latest science, technology and federal requirements into how the State regulates water quality. In addition, it assists the Department with workplanning and with identifying needed actions for moving projects forward.

The Triennial Review process is carried out in two phases:

  • Phase 1: Generate a prioritized list of standards and guidance for review
  • Phase 2: Revise or develop each selected Water Quality Standard or guidance

Phase 1 of the 2015-2017 TSR cycle is complete. Topics of concern were identified by DNR staff and the public at the end of 2013. Descriptions of the topics in the surveys can be found here: Topic Descriptions

The Department performed an internal staff and technical partner priorities survey as well as a public priorities survey. Citizens were encouraged to participate in the online survey during the 30-day comment period (July 28th – August 7th, 2014). On July 30th, 2014, a public hearing was held where all members of the public were able to submit their feedback.

Following the ranking surveys, DNR staff prioritized the topics into the following categories:

  • Category A: Standards or guidance with revisions or development currently in progress
  • Category B: Standards or guidance that are new priorities for the upcoming cycle
  • Category C: Standards or guidance that are priorities, but progress will be limited due to insufficient resources at this time
  • Category D: Standards or guidance that should be revised or developed but are not priorities for the upcoming cycle
  • Category E: Standards or guidance where barriers to development currently exist

Several topics are already being worked on. These are automatically designated as high priority for continuation during the 2015-2017 cycle. These projects in progress are:

  • Aquatic Macrophyte Biotic Index for Lakes
  • Biological Criteria
  • Mixing Zone Policy Revision
  • Phosphorus Site-Specific Criteria (SSC) Guidance and Rules
  • Phosphorus Assimilative-Capacity Modeling in Great Lakes
  • Phosphorus Implementation Guidance Revision
  • Use Designations Revision
  • Variance Determination Procedure Revision

A brief description of rules under development that related to the above topics is provided here. Additional information on the status of these and other topics will be available in the future.

From the ranking surveys, the WDNR has committing to addressing the following additional topics in 2015-2017.

  • Antidegradation
  • Bacteria water quality criteria
  • Cyanobacterial Toxin and Cell Density water quality standard or guidance

These topics were determined to be high priority based on input from internal staff, external partners, and the public. Additional information on these topics will be available in the future.

Further information about the ranking procedure, status of the topic areas, and responses from the public comment period can be found in the 2015-2017 Triennial Standards Review (TSR) Priorities for the Water Quality Standards Program Report [PDF]

Phase 2 of the 2015-2017 TSR cycle is underway. Additional information regarding the status of the topics will be made available in the future.

Final Report for 2012-2014

The Department finalized its selection of topics in 2011 for the 2012-2014 Triennial Standards Review. The final TSR report is provided here: Final TSR Report 2012-2014 Cycle [PDF]

In addition, you can read the status report for the final list of prioritized topics:2012-2014 cycle [PDF]

Final Prioritized List for 2008-2011

The WDNR has finalized its selection of topics for the 2008-2011 Triennial Standards Review. The final prioritized topics and a synopsis of public comments and DNR responses are provided below.

2008-2011 TSR Priority Projects

The 2008-2011 TSR cycle identified several key projects for the Department. Completed projects include Phosphorus Standards, Thermal Standards, and implementation of Wisconsin’s Assessment Methodology guidance (WisCALM guidance). Other topic areas were put on hold due to limited resources, and were re-evaluated in the 2011-2014 TSR Cycle.

Contact information
For more information, contact:
Ashley Beranek
Sarah Yang
Last revised: Friday June 03 2016