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Contact(s): Alison Mikulyuk, DNR lakes and rivers team leader,, 608‑266-0502; Raechelle Belli, DNR communications,, 608-264-8942
February 26, 2019

MADISON -- Communities throughout Wisconsin will soon reap the benefits of 229 surface water planning and education grants awarded by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. This year, the DNR is providing over $2.8 million in assistance for efforts to improve water quality, reduce runoff, create aquatic habitat and reduce the spread of invasive species.

The surface water grants program is a cost-sharing program. When local matching funds contributed by lake and river associations, local governments and nonprofit groups are included, the total amount for planning and education work proposed is valued at $4.6 million.

"Improving water quality, protecting lakes from nutrient enrichment and preventing the introduction of aquatic invasive species is work best guided by a local management plan, which this program helps organizations develop," says Alison Mikulyuk, DNR lakes and rivers team leader.

Planning grants help communities collect data, assess waterbody condition and understand the source of water quality problems. Education projects focus on capacity building, outreach, and understanding of prevention and management needs. Funding for these grants originates from the gas tax on fuel used in recreational boats.

"There were a lot of exciting projects proposed this year. For example, the Riveredge Nature Center is focusing on community involvement to support a large-scale water quality project currently underway for the Milwaukee River watershed," Mikulyuk said.

Lake Redstone - Photo credit: Donna Sefton
Lake RedstonePhoto credit: Donna Sefton

Other applicants proposed watershed management plans to improve water quality, like the project proposed by the Lake Redstone Protection District. Lake Redstone will use planning funds to complete a 9-key element watershed plan to address non-point source pollution. Big Roche-A-Cri in Adams county is just starting their watershed management effort, taking their first steps toward holistic management with a data inventory and gaps analysis.

"In addition to watershed work, a common theme shared by many applicants was a focus on assessing shoreland health to help landowners reduce local-scale runoff and create quality habitat at the water's edge," Mikulyuk said.

The 2019 surface water planning grant applications were submitted to DNR in December 2018. Clean Boats, Clean Waters projects, which fund staff to conduct boat and trailer inspections and educate boaters on how to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species at boat landings, accounted for the largest number of awards with 140 grants totaling more than $730,000. Aquatic invasive species education, prevention and planning efforts represented the greatest area of investment with 31 grants totaling more than $1.2 million. Below are grant award summaries, by grant type.

Grant Type

Grants Awarded

Award Amounts

Total Project Costs

Lake Planning




AIS Education, Prevention, & Planning




River Planning




Lake Classification




Clean Boats, Clean Waters




Total FY19 Planning Grants




To see the full list of awards, visit and search "surface water grants." Links to awarded grants can be found on the right hand side of the Web page under "Related links" on a desktop computer or under the "Show more" dropdown on mobile devices.

Last Revised: Tuesday, February 26, 2019

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