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Wisconsin Water Quality Report to Congress 2018

Read the Executive Summary of the 2018 Clean Water Act Report to Congress [PDF].

The Federal Clean Water Act (CWA) requires all states to prepare a Water Quality Report to Congress every two years. The report contains an overall summary of water quality conditions in the state and an updated impaired waters list. The full Wisconsin Water Quality Report to Congress – 2018 and the executive summary are available online.

Key ideas in 2018

Figure 1

The majority of assessed waterbodies in the state, 82%, are healthy (Figure 1).

During the 2018 cycle, a greater focus was placed on quantifying the state's healthy waters in addition to the ones determined to be impaired. The use of automated assessment packages, which are specific calculations done by a computer, and access to a large amount of data has allowed for the assessment of more waterbodies.

Figure 2

Healthy waters are found across the state (Figure 2).

A waterbody is determined to be healthy if it meets at least one of its designated uses (recreation, aquatic life, fish consumption) and is not impaired for any use.

Figure 3, Lake Winnebago

Over 159,000 lake acres had their PCB listings removed.

Lakes Winnebago, Butte des Morts, Winneconne and Poygan all had their specific fish consumption advisories for PCBs removed based on new fish tissue data. This is one of the largest lake acreage pollutant deletions for fish consumption since 2008. An effort was put forth during the 2018 cycle to determine which lakes were supporting Fish Consumption (FC) use because in the past only impaired waters and waters delisted for a pollutant related to FC were reported. With the large number of acres delisted and healthy waters identified, the percentage of lake acres supporting FC use increased to 30% of lakes in the database. This update lets Wisconsin citizens know which lakes have had fish tissue tested (Figure 3).

A total of 35 waterbodies were removed from the impaired waters list, the most since 2010.

The majority of these delistings are for total phosphorus and mercury.

The 2018 draft 303(d) impaired waters list has proposed the listing of 242 waterbodies with 244 new pollutant observations, and 43 previously listed waterbodies with 45 pollutant occurrences added.

Figure 5, Delisting and listings for the 2018 impaired waters list by pollutant
Last revised: Wednesday May 15 2019