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23 WATERSHEDS GET HEALTH CHECKS, RECOMMENDATIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT

July 6, 2010

Management plans required under federal clean water laws

MADISON - People who enjoy swimming, fishing and boating in Wisconsin will want to take a look at plans that summarize the health and condition -- and recommendations for improving both -- for lakes and rivers within 23 watersheds in the state, state water quality officials say.

watershed plans
Plans are available to improve the water quality in 23 Wisconsin watersheds. Click on image for larger size.

A July 13 webcast about the plans will allow people to watch a live presentation from home and to comment on the plans electronically or in writing through July 30.

"These watershed plans outline the conditions of waters within a watershed, where we believe resource management actions should occur, and current priorities for improving resource conditions," says Lisa Helmuth, the water resources specialist who coordinated the effort.

"We hope people will read and get involved, including volunteering for a water quality monitoring program or advocating for needed actions to address the water quality problems identified in the report."

Individual watershed plans are one of the state's requirements under the federal Clean Water Act. Other requirements include assessing the condition of waters, creating a list of impaired waters that do not meet state water quality standards, developing cleanup plans for those impaired waters, and publishing a statewide assessment that also describes the states' programs to manage its waters, as Wisconsin has done with its 2010 Water Quality Report to Congress (pdf).

A watershed is all of the land that drains to a lake or river. Wisconsin has 334 watersheds within 23 larger water management areas or "basins." This planning effort focused DNR staff resources on creating a plan for at least one watershed in each of the state's basins.

Such plans will be developed for other watersheds over time, Helmuth says.

The 23 individual plans present data about the condition of lakes, rivers, streams and wetlands within a specific watershed, identify whether any are considered impaired and unable to provide the swimming, fishing and other opportunities they should be able to, and current recommendations for how to improve the waters.

The plans were developed through a collaborative process with local partner groups like county land conservation departments and other stakeholders. DNR contracted with the University of Wisconsin-Extension basin educator program to facilitate development of the plans with DNR watershed managers, biologists and other resource experts.

The 23 individual plans, and the statewide assessment, are available only electronically, saving considerable costs over paper plans from past years, Helmuth says.

She encourages people to look at the statewide map showing the 23 featured watersheds and read through the 6-8 page plans for each watershed. People interested in learning more are encouraged to reserve their space for a July 13 webcast, from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m., on the topic. Participants will see a presentation about the historical and legal context for the updates, a summary of the results, and directions on how to provide comments and feedback to resource managers during the public review and comment period.

People also can submit comments about the plan electronically to Amanda Lederer at Amanda.Lederer@wisconsin.gov or send written comments by U.S. mail to Lederer at the DNR, WT/3, P.O. Box 7921, 101 S. Webster, Madison, WI 53707.

FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT: Lisa Helmuth (608) 266-7768; Lisa.Helmuth@wisconsin.gov

Last Revised: Tuesday, July 06, 2010




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