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Atlas data, webinars, reports
About Wisconsin's waters.
Standards
Goals for water resources.
Monitoring
Monitoring water quality.
Assessments & reporting
Evaluating condition.
Planning
Planning for water quality.
Management
Managing water resources.
Contact information
For more information on water quality standards, contact:
Kristi Minahan
Water quality standards specialist
Meghan Williams
Environmental toxicologist

Water quality standards

DNR biologist at the USGS Gage Station.

USGS Gage Station.

Water quality standards are important because they help water quality managers protect and restore the quality of Wisconsin's surface waters. Our water quality may be impacted by many different sources and types of pollution. Under the federal Clean Water Act, every state must adopt water quality standards to protect, maintain and improve the quality of our nation's surface waters. These standards set the appropriate level of protection by:

Any interested individual can have a role in the process of developing water quality standards. Wisconsin DNR reviews and, as appropriate, revises water quality standards at least once every three years. To find out more about this process and how you can be involved, visit Triennial standards review.

When revisions to water quality standards are proposed, the public is notified of these revisions and a public hearing is held to gather input and comments. Water quality standards rules that are currently under development include the following.

  • Revisions to the processes that DNR uses to classify and assess the state's waters. This include adjustments to Wisconsin's designated uses, development of biocriteria and creation of a process for selecting site-specific criteria for phosphorous. For a brief description of these revisions, visit DUBC rule revisions.
  • Revisions to Wisconsin's designated use and water quality criteria for recreation. For a brief description of this revision, visit recreation water quality standards revisions .

Water quality standards also support efforts to achieve and maintain protective water quality conditions, including:

Last revised: Thursday May 23 2019