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For CWFP & SDWLP information, contact:
Environmental Loans staff

Storm water projects

Program implementation details are outlined in the governing administrative codes and statutes: §§ 281.58 and 281.59, Wis. Stat., and ch. NR 162, Wis. Adm. Code.

In order to be eligible for funding from the Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP), storm water projects must lead to or provide treatment to control discharged water quality.

Eligibility and purpose

A municipality receiving financial assistance from the CWFP for a storm water project must have a need to control storm water runoff rates, volumes, and discharge quality as required by any of the following:

  • A Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) storm water permit issued under subch. 1 of ch. NR 216, Wis. Adm. Code;
  • A performance standard; and/or
  • A plan approved by the department under § 281.41, Wis. Stats., or a storm water management plan.

Ineligible projects

Projects intended solely for drainage and flood control; dams; pipes; conveyance systems and structural urban best management practices, including storm sewer rerouting and land acquisition; then the projects are ineligible for CWFP assistance. In order to be eligible, a storm water project must lead to or provide treatment to control discharged water quality.

For a complete description of eligibility, please read ch. NR 162, Wis. Adm. Code, or the CWFP eligilbility index.


Performance Standards

Means nonagricultural performance standards established by the department in ch. NR 151, Wis. Adm. Code, pursuant to §§ 281.16(2), Wis Stats.

Structural Urban Best Management Practice (BMP)

A "structural urban best management practice" or "structural urban BMP" means a practice that is determined to be an effective means of preventing or reducing pollutants generated from urban runoff, including land acquisition, storm sewer rerouting and the removal of structures.

Urban Runoff

Means snowmelt, ice-melt, precipitation and surface drainage conveyed from an urban land use in either a diffuse manner, as a nonpoint source, or as a point source conveyance regulated under ch. NR 216, Wis. Adm. Code.

WPDES Permit

Means a Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit issued under ch. 283, Wis. Stats.

Storm water application process

Application guidance and considerations are available under the "How to Apply" tab on the EL landing page.

In order to start the application process for an Environmental Loan, you need to complete these steps:

  1. Identify and define the storm water "problem" that needs to be corrected or prevented.
    • This process generally involves a joint effort of the municipality, their consulting engineer, and the DNR construction management engineer (CME) in your area or regional basin/watershed engineer.
  2. A notice of Intent to Apply with Priority Evaluation and Ranking Formula (ITA/PERF) information must be submitted online to DNR for each project for which you will be seeking an environmental loan.
    • October 31 is the submittal deadline for all ITAs/PERFs for the following state fiscal year (SFY) funding cycle.
    • Exception: Projects that applied for Urban Nonpoint Source and Storm Water Management or Targeted Run-off Management grants can substitute that application for the ITA if the proper box on the grant application form is checked.
  3. Storm water plans and specifications must be submitted in an approvable state, reviewed and approved by the department prior to or concurrent with the financial assistance application submittal. Applicants should submit:
  4. A "market rate cost calculation" must be developed and submitted for review.
    • Subsidized interest rates apply to water quality and existing development components of a project.
    • Market rates apply to portions of each project determined to be solely for flood control and for development not in existence at the time of the application.
    • "Parallel cost percentage" means the proportion of project costs eligible for below-market rate financing relative to the total project cost eligible for CWFP financing. The PCP may include project costs eligible for a reduced interest rate (i.e., 0%, 33% or 55% of the market rate); and/or a 0% interest rate (i.e., those incremental costs related to the portion of eligible projects for receiving and storing septage, and capacity for treating septage).
  5. A Financial Assistance Application must be submitted online to DNR for each project for which you will be seeking an environmental loan.
  6. Your project will be assigned to a DNR loan project manager who will advise you on the best financial strategy for your situation and guide you through the process of closing on a loan.

User charge system, ordinances, & regulations

Storm water projects have slightly different requirements for a User Charge System (UCS) and related ordinances. A UCS is only required for storm water projects that either:

  1. receive a loan collateralized by a utility Revenue pledge, or
  2. require an intermunicipal agreement.

Projects supported by a municipal General Obligation pledge are not required to submit a UCS.

For urban runoff treatment works or structural urban BMP projects, each municipality is required to adopt local regulations for construction sites, and adopt a municipal storm water management plan and ordinance for new development and redevelopment, both consistent with the performance standards and with model ordinances developed by the department under § 281.33(4), Wis. Stats., in accordance with §§ NR 162.06(2)3 and 162.07(7). Ordinances must be in place before funding is awarded.

Contact information
For information on this topic, contact:
Becky Scott or Lisa Bushby

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Disclaimer of guidance: This document is intended solely as guidance and does not contain any mandatory requirements except where requirements found in statute or administrative rule are referenced. Any regulatory decisions made by the Department of Natural Resources in any matter addressed by this guidance will be made by applying the governing statutes and administrative rules to the relevant facts.

Last revised: Thursday January 16 2020