Water Planning in Wisconsin Continuous Planning Process (CPP), Areawide Water Quality Management Plan, and Watershed Plans

CPP

Continuous Planning Process (CPP)

DNR is required by section 303(e) of the Clean Water Act to develop a Continuing Planning Process (CPP) Plan. The CPP may be described as an umbrella document that coordinates all aspects of water pollution control to help ensure the states maintain progress toward protecting and preserving water quality. The state CPP is a description of the state's water quality management and planning activities, providing references to technical documents and sources that explain water quality programs in greater detail. The CPP describes ongoing processes and planning requirements of the state’s Areawide Water Quality Management Plan (AWQMP). Wisconsin is currently updating its CPP. Here is an example of a CPP from the State of Nevada.

What is an Areawide Water Quality Management Plan?

The AWQMP is not a single plan or document but rather a compilation of the guidance and programs that DNR uses to implement Clean Water Act requirements. The AWQMP Program provides a structure and foundation on which implementation activities are attached, including Sewer Service Area Plans, Wastewater Facility Plans, permits for effluent limits, stomwater plans and other projects funded through CWA monies, as well as watershed plans, which identify the condition of water and recommendations for management actions.

What is a Watershed Plan?

Watershed Plans (formerly called "Basin Plans") document and summarize the condition of health of water resources within the area. Watershed plans [see plan status map] incorporate information on current and changing land use, population change, water resource potential and assessments of current conditions based on biological, physical and chemical data compared to water quality standards and quality thresholds established in guidance [see WisCALM Guidance].

Watershed plans identify ecological restoration and remediation priorities and goals of the waters and watersheds and provide recommendations for specific management actions including rivers, lakes, nonpoint source grants, monitoring, and additional management actions [search and read online Watershed Plans] . Watershed plans are updated on a rotating basis, with a higher priority, targeted focus on areas with known issues related to restoration, protection or management. Watershed Planning Guidance for 2014 is now available.[PDF] and several watersheds are currently in the assessment and recommendation phase.

What is a Sewer Service Area Plan?

Sewer Service Area Planning is a process designed to anticipate a community's future needs for wastewater treatment. This planning helps protect communities from adverse water quality impacts through development of cost-effective and environmentally sound 20-year sewerage system growth plans. A sewer service area plan identifies existing sewered areas as well as adjacent land most suitable for new development. This planning also identifies areas where sewers should not go: environmentally sensitive areas where development would have an adverse impact upon water quality.[Search existing contracts and plans].

Plan Summary

  • The CPP encompasses the broad picture of how decisions are made, how programs relate, and how the public is involved.
  • Wisconsin's AWQMP concerns how programs are implemented, particularly within a specific basin or watershed - through monitoring, assessments, grants, and more.
  • Wisconsin's Basin / Watershed Plans apply the rules, programs, guidance, and identify opportunities for management actions at a catchment (basin/watershed) and water level (stream, lake, etc.).
  • Sewer Service Area Planning in "designated" and "non-designated areas" of Wisconsin refers to planning specified by NR121 for regional planning agencies or DNR contract agencies to develop and implement 20-year sewer service area plans to protect water quality through systematic sewered development..

Legal Elements

Continuous Planning Process (CPP)

View a visual of the CPP and its connections with other activities New Window. All elements in the chart are collectively part of the state's Areawide Water Quality Management Plan. The CPP provides a broad overview of how the state’s water resources are managed. The CPP is a description of how Wisconsin manages water quality. As the name "Continuing Planning Process" implies, the CPP is an evolving process that grows and changes as circumstances change. The primary aspects of the process are: laws and rules, water quality programs, water quality monitoring and assessment, implementation of water quality maintenance and restoration projects, and ongoing planning.

Laws, Rules, and Guidance—The states commitment to water quality protection is clear in enabling satutes and administrative rules. For more information: See: State Statutes 283.83 (Continuing planning process) and State Statutes 281

283.83(1) (1)The department shall establish a continuing water pollution control planning process consistent with applicable state requirements. The continuing planning process shall result in plans for all waters of the state, which plans shall include:

  • 283.83(1)(a) (a) Adequate effluent limitations and schedules of compliance;
  • 283.83(1)(b) (b) The incorporation of all elements of any applicable areawide waste management plans, basin plans and statewide land use plans;
  • 283.83(1)(c) (c) Total maximum daily load for pollutants;
  • 283.83(1)(d) (d) Procedures for revision;
  • 283.83(1)(e) (e) Procedures for intergovernmental cooperation;
  • 283.83(1)(f) (f) Implementation procedures, including schedules of compliance, for revised or new water quality standards;
  • 283.83(1)(g) (g) Controls over the disposition of all residual waste from any water treatment processing;
  • 283.83(1)(h) (h) An inventory and ranking, in order of priority, of needs for construction of waste treatment works required to meet applicable requirements.

283.83(2) (2) When the department receives for review or prepares a new plan under sub. (1) or a revision to a plan under sub. (1) that includes a proposal to return water transferred from the Great Lakes basin to the source watershed through a stream tributary to one of the Great Lakes, the department shall provide notice of the plan or revision to the governing body of each city, village, and town through which the stream flows or that is adjacent to the stream downstream from the point at which the water would enter the stream.

Water Quality Programs—DNR is responsible for ensuring that the state's surface water, ground water, wastewater, and drinking water resources meet state water quality standards and federal requirements. For more information about water quality programs, visit the Surface Water, Impaired Waters, TMDLs, Wastewater/PermitsSewer Service Area Planning, Runoff Management, and Groundwater pages.

Monitoring and Assessment—DNR continually monitors and assesses the quality of the state's rivers, streams, lakes, reservoirs, ground water, and sources of drinking water. This information is used to comply with federal reporting requirements and to make decisions regarding water quality management. For more information, see pages on drinking water monitoring and reportingground water monitoring , source water assessments, and surface water monitoring and surface water assessment.

Implementation—DNR uses a variety of tools to preserve and enhance (where necessary) the quality of waters. Loosely, these tools fall into three categories: permitting, preservation/restoration, and compliance and enforcement. See the individual water quality programs for more specific information regarding implementation activities in the various programs.

Planning—Since circumstances constantly change, planning is a constant process. While some plans or planning processes are required by state (e.g., DNR's Water Quality Bureau Strategic Plan) or federal (e.g., Water Quality Management Plan and Continuing Planning Process) law, DNR's ongoing planning is based on federal law, state statutes, regulatory codes, and program guidance.

Public Involvement—is at the center of many processes and is especially prevalent during the development of rules, permits, regulatory actions, and more: creating laws and rules; monitoring, assessing, and reporting on the quality of waters; and implementing measures to restore and maintain water quality. Inherent in this loop is continual feedback, improvement, and change.

CPP Requirements

Federal regulations (40 CFR 130.5) state that the following nine processes must be addressed by the CPP. These requirements and how DNR has addressed them are described briefly below. Included are links to related DNR webpages where more information is available.

  1. Limit the amount of pollutants discharged to surface water from point sources such as industrial sites and publicly owned treatment works (“effluent limits”). These limitations and schedules are covered under the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES), which is operated by the WDNR.
  2. Develop and incorporate elements from any area-wide waste treatment plans and basin plans when undertaking statewide planning. DNR implements basin (watershed) wide and statewide planning with its Integrated Report, watershed reports, and related data-gathering processes. These reports provide the water quality status of all Wisconsin waters, helps DNR set priorities, and is the basis for writing total maximum daily loads (TMDLs), which are subbasin specific. Advisory groups and watershed advisory groups help guide the planning and implementation process.
  3. Develop water quality improvement plans (TMDLs) for water bodies that do not meet Wisconsin water quality standards. Learn more at DNR’s TMDLs webpage.
  4. Update and maintain the water quality management plan (WQMP) comprised of various programs and guidance documents. The WQMP is discussed in more detail below.
  5. Ensure intergovernmental cooperation in the implementation of the state water quality management program through state laws, regulations, and memoranda of understanding/agreement. DNR is granted authority to implement its water quality management program through state laws and regulations and through primacy from EPA.
  6. Establish and ensure implementation of new or revised water quality standards for surface water to protect the public and restore the quality of surface waters. The standards are the benchmarks that waters are compared to when determining the need for TMDLs or antidegradation measures. DEQ's §401 certification program ensures federally permitted or licensed activities meet water quality standards, while continual monitoring and assessment provide feedback on the achievement of water quality standards.
  7. Ensure adequate control of residual waste from water treatment processing. To control residual waste from water treatment processing, DNR approves or disapproves plans for wastewater treatment and disposal facilities, issues wastewater land application permits, and provides §401 certification of federal WPDES permits (issued by DNR).
  8. Develop an inventory and ranking in priority order of needs for construction of waste treatment works. This annual priority list helps identify projects that qualify for construction loan funds. Learn more about wastewater loans.
  9. Determine the priority of permit issuance.This process is covered under the WPDES program, which is operated by DNR. 

Water Quality Mgmt Plan

One tool DNR uses to implement its water quality programs is the Areawide Water Quality Management Plan Framework, which is a compilation of guidance and programs DNR uses to implement the Clean Water Act.

Each component of the AWQMP is updated individually. Certain elements of the AWQMP have individual processes that are automatically approved and certified as part of the state's AWQMP and other elements are transmitted in annual letters from the DNR Secretary to the USEPA as formal updates and amendments to the state's AWQMP. This updating process varies in terms of triggers, pubic participation, time frames, and documentation procedures. All elements, however, are connected and the agency strives for consistency and continuity of program elements for the highest standards of resource protection and restoration.

Federal regulations (40 CFR 130.6) require that the plan address the following nine elements:

  1. Total maximum daily loads—learn more about TMDLs.
  2. Effluent limitations—effluent limits are covered under the WPDES program administered by DNR.
  3. Municipal and industrial waste treatment—see DNR’s Wastewater Program for more information.
  4. Nonpoint source management and control—learn more about DNR’s Nonpoint Source Pollution Program.
  5. Management agencies—see information about applicable laws, policies, guidance, and memoranda of agreement/understanding.
  6. Implementation measures—DNR implements various measures to carry out the AWQMP within the individual water quality programs. See also the Bureau of Water Quality strategic plan.
  7. Dredge or fill program—DNR certifies dredge and fill permits (issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers) through its §401 certification program.
  8. Basin (Watershed) plans—learn more about subbasin assessments and surface water planning here.
  9. Ground water—visit DEQ’s Ground Water Program for more information.

These elements are addressed in numerous documents and programs that span DNR's Water Division. The links above provide helpful starting points for exploring more information or viewing documents related to the various elements. Additional components of DNR’s WQMP include integrated reports, administrative rulessurface water monitoring and assessment programs, water quality standards, and wastewater treatment programs.

Planning Cycle

Wisconsin has more than 15,000 lakes and 80,000 river and stream miles. Every year, watershed planning begins across the state with monitoring to evaluate the health of Wisconsin's waters. Biologists and trained volunteers collect monitoring data on representative segments on rivers, streams and lakes across the state. Water quality data are evaluated against water quality standards to assess the condition, or health, of our waters. Department staff conduct research to better define the pollutants, pollutant sources and impairments and develop plans that identify management activities and strategies to enhance and protect our waters. For more about each component of this process below, click on the following:

Watershed Planning Map Integrated Reporting Watershed Planning Integrated Reporting Management Monitoring

Last revised: Saturday May 10 2014