The Historic Registry of Waste Disposal Sites

Prior to development of online databases, DNR provided public information about old waste disposal facilities in a printed publication called the Historic Registry of Waste Disposal Sites (the "Registry"). The department now provides searchable online databases to find this information. Agency staff are reviewing information in the 1999 version of the Registry in order to put relevant information into online databases. The Registry spreadsheet has been posted online because some information in the Registry has not yet been reviewed and incorporated into a database.

Information on this page will be important to people purchasing land, governments planning redevelopment, businesses planning expansion and well drillers.

Registry process

Registry screening process

The registry screening process is nearly complete. The last statewide update to the Historic Registry of Waste Disposal Sites Spreadsheet was July 2013. This spreadsheet will not be posted after 2015.

Beginning in 2000, EPA provided funding for DNR to review the 4100 entries in the 1999 version of the Registry to evaluate the accuracy and significance of the information. These reviews included both site visits and review of available state files. Many sites were already licensed and entered into the Solid & Hazardous Waste Information Management System (SHWIMS) if waste disposal was known. New sites were added to SHWIMS if file information showed that waste disposal had occurred but no license was issued.

Many screened registry entries were archived if:

  • no evidence of waste was found,
  • the waste was removed,
  • the waste is no longer regulated,
  • there was no credible evidence that the site existed, or
  • the information was duplicative.

Registry spreadsheet

The Historic Registry of Waste Disposal Sites spreadsheet

Instructions: click on the spreadsheet link below, then save the spreadsheet to your computer.

For information about the spreadsheet, please read Explanation of Columns in the Spreadsheet [PDF]. Also, see the Map of DNR Regions [PDF].

If you have questions about a location in the Registry spreadsheet, you may request an appointment to review DNR’s file. Most of this file information is old and may be incomplete, and in some cases there may not be a file to review. To view a file, please contact the appropriate regional DNR Waste and Materials Management staff person.

General Information
  • The Historic Registry spreadsheet will be phased out in 2014.
  • There are separate tabs in the spreadsheet for each of DNR’s five regions. Please consult the DNR regional map [PDF] to find the counties in each region.
  • For a list of currently licensed operating landfills, please see the Waste & Materials Management Program's list of Solid Waste Landfills Licensed in Wisconsin. [PDF]
  • The Historic Registry spreadsheet does not identify all license numbers for currently licensed waste disposal facilities and should not be used regarding potential liability exemptions for unlicensed waste disposal sites. Wisconsin Act 418 (s. 292.23, Wis. Stats.) provided these exemptions in 2006 for local governments and private parties. For more information about the exemptions, please see the Remediation & Redevelopment Program's Voluntary Party Liability Exemption page. For help regarding these statutory exemptions, please contact Dan Kolberg, DNR (608-267-7500).
Other considerations

Being listed in the Historic Registry spreadsheet does not mean that soil or groundwater is contaminated. If you are looking for this type of information, please consult the Contaminated Lands Environmental Action Network (CLEAN), DNR’s online information system about properties with contamination. CLEAN provides both a comprehensive online database (BRRTS on the Web) and a web-based mapping system (RR Sites Map) to find information about:

  • cleanups that are underway and completed;
  • environmental liability clarifications and limitations;
  • use of brownfield loans and grants to complete cleanups;
  • post-cleanup environmental land use controls;
  • spills of hazardous substances;
  • leaking underground petroleum tanks; and
  • waste disposal sites where contamination has spread into soil or groundwater.

Current sites

Where can I find current waste disposal site information?

  1. Solid & Hazardous Waste Information Management System (SHWIMS)

    The primary source of information about properties where solid waste has been disposed in Wisconsin is the Solid & Hazardous Waste Information Management System (SHWIMS). This online database includes locations and facilities regulated by DNR’s Waste and Materials Management program, including:

    • engineered and licensed solid waste disposal facilities;
    • older unlicensed waste disposal sites (e.g. town dumps);
    • licensed waste transporters;
    • hazardous waste generators;
    • composting sites, wood-burning sites, waste processing facilities and more.
  2. Well Water Data Disc

    The Bureau of Drinking Water & Groundwater prepares a CD every six months that contains important information such as:

    • well construction report files
    • waste disposal sites
    • wells with variances
    • special casing areas
    • drinking water staff listing
    • licensed well drillers
    • pump installers
    • inspectors
    • landfill mapping program (new January 2014)
  3. The CD contains an excellent “find” feature that allows the user to search for environmental sites by municipality, QQ, section, township, and range.

    The landfill mapping program (ArcGIS explorer) lets you view the location of any landfill, its name in SHWIMS and the 1200 foot radius where you must contact DNR before constructing a well. This program also allows you to measure distances from any landfill that has been geolocated by DNR.

    Limited copies of this CD are available to select users. Please contact Judy Gifford, DNR private water systems section, 608-266-0153.

    You may also contact a DNR PRIVATE Water Supply Specialist [PDF] for a CD with only the ArcGIS landfill mapping program and instructions.

  4. Contaminated and cleaned up properties

    If a property is or was undergoing cleanup because of environmental contamination, site information can be found here Contaminated Lands Environmental Action Network (CLEAN).  The vast majority of these sites are not disposal sites but they may have groundwater contamination where you must contact DNR before construction a well.

Please note that some of the site names from the Registry may have been modified to meet DNR database protocols.

More information

Constructing water supply wells near waste disposal sites

You must obtain DNR approval to install a water supply well within 1200 feet of a waste disposal site or if the property is listed in the BRRTS on the Web (BOTW) GIS Registry. BOTW is a searchable database containing information on the investigation and cleanup of potential and confirmed contamination to soil and groundwater in Wisconsin.

Consult the SHWIMS database and the Well Water Data Disc for information about waste disposal sites. For information about private drinking water wells in Wisconsin, please visit the DNR Wells webpage.

To contact regional DNR drinking water staff, visit the Drinking Water and Groundwater Staff Contacts page.

Contruction or redevelopment on waste disposal and historic landfill sites

Wisconsin administrative code prohibits the placement of structures or other development on buried wastes without an exemption to s. NR 506.085 Wis. Adm. Code. There are legitimate and documented concerns about leachate, generation of methane, and past disposal practices. A streamlined and simplified process to develop on historic fill or waste disposal sites is now available.

Continuing obligations

Residual contamination and continuing obligations

Wisconsin, like most states, allows some residual contamination to remain after cleanup of contaminated soil or groundwater. Residual contamination means that some contamination remained above state standards after an environmental cleanup was completed and approved.
In order to protect public health, DNR will often place a continuing obligation on property where residual contamination above standards remains in place. Continuing obligations are legal requirements that apply to a property even after the ownership changes. Continuing obligations are sometimes called "environmental land use controls" or "institutional controls."

Last revised: Tuesday April 15 2014