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Atlas data, webinars, reports
About Wisconsin's waters.
Goals for water resources.
Monitoring water quality.
Assessments & reporting
Evaluating condition.
Planning for water quality.
Managing water resources.
Contact information
For information on the Program, contact:
Lisa Helmuth
Bureau of Water Quality

Who Participates in SSA Planning?

In "designated" planning areas the agency conducting the water quality planning has been designated by the governor. In "non-designated" areas of the state, the Department contracts with others to act as the DNR agent for sewer service area water quality protection work. This is usually the regional planning commission for the area or a city or county planning department. In either case, these agents are the water quality planning agency and their job is to develop the sewer service area plan, analyze amendments, and often conduct reviews of sewer extensions and plumbing plans for conformance with the Areawide Water Quality Management Plan (AWQMP), of which the sewer service area plan is one component.

Designated vs. Non-Designated

Under NR 121, Wisconsin sewer service area planning is developed by water quality planning agencies "designated" by the Governor. Elsewhere in the state, planning takes place in "non-designated areas", as per 121.05(1)(g)(4). These plans must must identify sewer service areas for selected urban regions within the standard metropolitan statistical areas and for areas with populations exceeding 10,000. Urban areas with treatment plants of 1.0 MGD or more within the standard metropolitan region of an urban area with a population of greater than 10,000 should be included in the sewer service area planning process.

List of designated and non-designated areas

Occasionally, the water quality planning agency responsibilities are split. A wide variety of administrative assignments, subject to DNR approval, are possible among the entities involved in the planning process.

Are local advisory committees mandatory?

Development of local advisory committees is not mandatory within designated AWQMP areas but is required in nondesignated areas (NR121.05(1)(g)4.b.). The local advisory committee helps create a community ownership of the plan and provides assurance that the public has participated in the planning process. An advisory committee provides a good working forum for long-range planning and intergovernmental cooperation. The advisory committee is often comprised of community representatives, the planning agency, and DNR staff. Some advisory committees have chosen to outline their responsibilities through the adoption of committee by-laws. That's an option a community can consider.

Although designated AWQMP agencies aren't required to develop plans with advisory committee input, they work with the DMA(s) who own the sewage systems and are required to hold at least one public hearing.

Sewer service area plans or amendments can be initiated by the designated management agency, an entity seeking designated management agency status, a designated planning agency, or the department. An entity seeking designated management agency status must be within the sewer service area boundary. Individuals who desire an amendment to the sewer service area plan should see their designated management agency.

Who should be represented on a local advisory committee?

A local advisory committee should have broad representation including the designated management agencies, city council(s), village board(s), town sanitary district(s), and others from throughout the planning area. The planning agency (generally a regional or county planning agency), guides the committee, with department oversight, from the development of land use goals and objectives, to the identification of environmentally sensitive lands and population growth projections. Together, by group effort, a 20-year sewer service area plan is developed that defines the amount and location of land appropriate for sewered development and those not appropriate, i.e. environmentally sensitive areas. The DNR works with the local committee and the planning agency throughout the planning process and has final plan approval authority.

Last revised: Monday January 13 2020