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COVID-19: Environmental Compliance Process

We at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources want you to know we are here for you and our great state as we go through the COVID-19 public health emergency together. We are committed to doing what we can to help those impacted by COVID-19 while still protecting environmental quality, public health and safety. We are doing everything we can to ensure our core operations continue during this unprecedented time.

Under Gov. Evers' Safer at Home emergency order, the DNR is committed to balancing its obligation to the law and to protect public health and the environment. We recognize that the outbreak may impact some regulated entities' ability to comply with all statutes, rules and permit or license conditions.

All state statutes and regulations remain in effect unless otherwise suspended by the governor and all entities should make every effort to comply with their environmental compliance obligations. Where full compliance is not reasonably practicable, Wisconsin DNR is providing a case-by-case request process, described below, to grant regulatory flexibility, where possible.

Under the Safer at Home order, the DNR will prioritize responding to imminent threats or complaints related to public health, safety and the environment over routine, on-site audits and inspections.

Regulated entities should be aware that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued the COVID-19 Implications for EPA's Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program temporary policy memo that addresses this topic at a federal level.

In Wisconsin, where regulated entities will have an unavoidable noncompliance situation or are seeking approval in advance for compliance assistance, directly due to impacts from COVID19, the DNR recommends the following steps.

Illustration of the COVID-19 compliance process
  • If you have a spill or compliance problem that poses an imminent or actual threat to health or the environment, report it immediately upon discovery by calling toll free 1-800-943-0003 (select #1 when prompted). This number is monitored 24 hours a day.

  • If your regulatory, non-compliance situation does not pose an imminent or actual threat to public health or the environment, DNR directs the regulated entity to request compliance assistance in advance from the DNR using one of the following two methods:

    1. Contact your DNR compliance contact or project manager for your site or facility, and provide the DNR with the information listed below via email;

      or

    2. If your DNR contact is unavailable, use this online form to make site- or facility-specific requests to the DNR, where possible, to assist entities with alternative approaches to maintaining compliance, such as extending reporting deadlines, extensions of operator certifications and other forms of regulatory flexibility.

Request for COVID19 Compliance Assistance via Email or Online Form

Regulated entities are encouraged to work with their DNR contact (compliance contact, responsible supervisor, or other primary DNR contact) who may be able to offer timely compliance assistance, especially for potential noncompliance related to routing compliance monitoring and reporting. This process is to be used for actual site or facility compliance situations, rather than "what if" inquiries.

Emails directly to DNR staff and this online form will be monitored daily during business hours and the DNR will work diligently to review and respond to incoming requests from regulated entities expeditiously. DNR written approval is required prior to implementing alternative measures. The requests for compliance assistance sent by email to your DNR contact or through the online form should at a minimum include the following information.

  1. Name of the facility/site
  2. Contact information for the central point of contact for the facility/site:
    1. Name of person notifying
    2. Address
    3. City/Town
    4. State/Province
    5. Zip/Postal Code
    6. Email Address
    7. Phone Number
    8. Primary DNR Contact for Site or Facility
  3. State what specific statute/rule/permit condition the individual party is looking for flexibility from.
  4. Include the reasoning/rationale for the request and related to the COVID19 emergency (1 paragraph summary on why the COVID19 emergency justifies the assistance sought and what actions the requestor took prior to the request to meet the requirement).
  5. Include bulleted points of what measures will be taken to mitigate/minimize the potential environmental impacts (if any).
  6. Specify the specific time period that the request is for including the rationale.

Where alternative compliance options are authorized by the DNR in writing, regulated entities must maintain records adequate to document implementation of authorized alternative compliance options and activities related to the noncompliance.

The DNR will work as quickly as possible with an individual party on a solution in response to the compliance assistance request. Requests can be amended by sending another email or online form if something has been approved for a specific time period needing an extension or if a change to approved compliance options is required.

The reason for an additional extension should be included. If the DNR receives a significant number of requests for regulatory flexibility from a specific requirement and the DNR determines it is appropriate, the DNR may consider granting the specific sector flexibility for that requirement.

Last revised: Thursday April 16 2020