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Contact information
For more information about the RR Program, contact:
Mick Skwarok

About the Remediation & Redevelopment (RR) Program

The DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program oversees the investigation and cleanup of environmental contamination and the redevelopment of contaminated properties. Our staff provide a comprehensive, streamlined program that consolidates state and federal cleanups into one program (e.g., hazardous waste cleanup, underground storage tank investigation & cleanup, spill response, state-funded cleanups and brownfields).

Site statistics

Summary of new contaminated sites and completed cleanups

The following table illustrates the number of contaminated sites reported to DNR in the past decade and the number of sites cleaned up and approved by DNR each year.

All new contamination incidents must be reported to DNR by law. However, DNR transfers responsibility for oversight of some incidents to other agencies. Cleanups where the contaminants are agri-chemicals (fertilizer, pesticides) are overseen and approved by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection [exit DNR].

Most investigations and cleanups of contaminated soil and groundwater take more than a year, and there is little correlation between the number of new incidents reported in a year and the number of completed cleanups in the same calendar year.

Year New Reports to DNR of Contaminated Soil or Groundwater Completed Cleanups of Soil or Groundwater Approved by DNR
2013 324 369
2012 359 503
2011 302 423
2010 339 464
2009 316 455
2008 447 465
2007 397 510
2006 471 605
2005 480 556
2004 538 545
2003 581 586
2002 596 542
2001 727 506
2000 722 821
1999 1,158 1,138
1998 1,676 836
1997 1,821 883
1996 1,589 1,484
TOTALS 12,843 11,691


Program awards

RR Program awards from 2010 and 2011.
RR Program awards from 2010 and 2011.

In April 2011, EPA Region 5 presented the Remediation & Redevelopment (RR) Program with a Brownfields Recognition Award. The honor recognizes "participants who have made exceptional contributions to the Brownfields Program." In making the award, EPA recognized the over-all work done by the RR Program, including projects such as our report on institutional controls [PDF], the Wisconsin Plant Recovery Initiative (WPRI), our One Cleanup Memorandum of Agreement with EPA, and our program transparency.

In 2010, the RR Program was recognized with a State Program Innovation Award from the Environmental Council of States (ECOS) [exit DNR], a non-partisan organization based in Washington, D.C. This honor recognized the Wisconsin Plant Recovery Initiative, a statewide effort to provide environmental and economic assistance to communities and companies struggling with closed manufacturing facilities.

One Cleanup Program

One Cleanup Program

The DNR and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) Region 5 have a One Cleanup Program Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the two agencies.

The memorandum is nationally significant in that it is the first EPA-state MOA to address cleanup requirements across several environmental media, including the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, Toxic Substances Control Act and Leaking Underground Storage Tanks.

Wisconsin’s program simplifies cleanups of contaminated sites under different regulatory programs by providing a single, consolidated approach rather than utilizing a range of separate programs with potentially conflicting approaches and cleanup standards. By clarifying the U.S. EPA’s intentions and expectations with respect to Wisconsin’s One Cleanup Program, it is believed that the MOA will expedite cleanups of all contaminated sites, including brownfields, as well as guide property owners, developers, consultants and others in understanding how meeting Wisconsin’s standards can satisfy both agencies.

For more information about the OCP, please contact Gary Edelstein (608-267-7563).

State-funded cleanups

State-funded response

State-funded response is a process that occurs when the state – through the DNR – provides resources and tools to communities to address contamination issues that endanger public health and the environment.

Under Section 20.370(2)(dv) of the Wisconsin Statues, the DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program uses appropriations from the state’s Environmental Fund to take action at sites in need of immediate or long-term response.

The Hog Island Inlet site used DNR's State Funded Response program to clean up contamination.
One of the main goals of state-funded response actions is to protect Wisconsin communities dealing with difficult environmental challenges. State-funded Response dollars are paying for remediation of a contaminated Minocqua city well.

Cases where the RR Program utilizes state funds generally fall into the following four categories.

  • Orphan Sites – Properties or areas of concern where a responsible party (RP) - i.e. the individual/entity responsible for the contamination – is unknown, unwilling or unable to pay for necessary remediation.
  • Spill Responses – Locations where recent spills pose a public health or environmental threat that must be addressed immediately.
  • Abandoned Containers – Some properties have containers or barrels which hold hazardous materials, many of which are dumped by unknown parties.
  • Bottled Water – The RR Program uses state funds to provide potable water to homes in areas where contamination makes local drinking water unsafe.

For state-funded response actions where the RPs are unknown, unwilling or unable to pay for the cost of the state response, the RR Program will attempt to recover the cost after the project is complete.

Examples of State-funded Response activities

State funds can be used to finance a variety of activities, including:

  • site investigations;
  • design and installation of multimillion dollar landfill caps;
  • providing emergency water to residents with contaminated drinking water sources;
  • installation of treatment systems to remove pollutants from groundwater;
  • contracts for construction oversight; and
  • operation and maintenance of treatment facilities and other remediation activities.

In 2008, the state spent $2 million to help fund investigations and cleanup activities at 64 sites around the state.

Frequently asked questions about State-Funded Response

Who conducts State-funded Response activities?

The RR Program oversees state-funded response actions. The RR Program has authority to hire environmental consultants and contracting firms. These private companies conduct cleanups and other activities to the best technical standards that are economically feasible at the time.

If you are a consultant or contractor interested in being considered for state-funded work, please contact Tim Panzer (608-267-2465).

How are sites chosen for State-funded Response projects?

A site can move into and out of the state-funded response process anytime from site discovery through completed cleanup. State funding is usually targeted at sites which pose an immediate health concern to people or where not acting could result in much greater costs down the line. Other sites are chosen because there is simply no one else to respond to the problem, and without state help, the site would continue to pose a public and/or environmental health threat.

Greener cleanups

Wisconsin’s Initiative for Sustainable Remediation and Redevelopment (WISRR)

Sustainable cleanups, or "greener" cleanups, are fast becoming a hot topic in the world of environmental contamination remediation. The DNR's Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) Program is working to foster environmentally-friendly practices through the Wisconsin Initiative for Sustainable Remediation and Redevelopment (WISRR).

The WISRR initiative continues the RR Program’s history and spirit for applying innovation to a strong foundation of environmental protection and economic benefit. Formerly known as the Wisconsin Initiative for Sustainable Cleanups (WISC), this effort emphasizes the applicability of sustainable technologies in site remediation, and encourages the use of green technology during the redevelopment process. Saving energy, reducing greenhouse gases and minimizing waste through reuse and recycling are all aspects of WISRR.

By applying WISRR concepts to the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties, Wisconsin's citizens will be rewarded with remedies that are protective of public health, safety and the environment, and are also economically sound and more sustainable to meet long-term needs and protect valuable state resources.

Green and sustainable remediation manual

Environmental professionals can implement sustainable remediation practices at cleanup sites by using the WISRR Green and Sustainable Remediation Manual. The manual was drafted by an external contractor, under the guidance of the WISRR Team. A companion document examines real-world applications of the WISRR Manual at state-led remediation sites.

Quick Reference Guides
Pilot project: Refuse Hideaway solar array

Solar panel array at Refuse Hideaway Landfill.The RR Program’s first pilot project is the former Refuse Hideaway Landfill [PDF], in the town of Middleton. The former landfill is a Superfund site, currently in the joint care of the U.S. EPA and DNR. Remediation systems have been running at the site for more than 20 years, using a substantial amount of energy.

In 2010, a 44-panel solar array was installed at the site to generate clean energy. The array off-sets one-fourth of the energy used to power the remediation systems. Once results from the pilot project can be examined, the RR Program will look at expanding this model for other state- and privately-owned sites.

Additional resources

*Note: there is a fee to download ASTM documents

For more information on WISRR, contact Tom Coogan (608-267-7560).

Last revised: Thursday November 13 2014