DNR assessment: State’s lakes and rivers remain healthy
MADISON, Wis. — The majority of Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers recently assessed by the state DNR received a good bill of health, continuing a trend of improved surface water quality across the state, according to a DNR news release Wednesday, Nov. 15.
At the same time the DNR is working to identify new waterways to target for pollution reduction plans. The department’s recent assessment also included 240 new waters that meet the criteria for being classified as impaired, and is seeking public comment on the new listings.
Over the past five years, Sharon Gayan, director of the DNR Water Quality Bureau, said the DNR has completed assessments on more than 6,000 additional waterways. The vast majority – more than 80 percent of assessed waters – are in good condition, according to the release. For the 2018 listing updates, 35 waterbodies are also proposed to be removed from the list, the highest number of delistings since 2010.
The impaired list identifies waters that need additional management attention. A majority of these new listings – 183 – are for lakes or river stretches that exceed new, more restrictive phosphorus standards that took effect in December 2010. Many of these new phosphorus listings are in areas with restoration plans already in development and were waters that had never been previously assessed for phosphorus.
“The listing does not necessarily mean that phosphorus levels in these waters got worse,” said Gayan. “Phosphorus levels may be improving in some, but not enough yet to meet these new standards.”
Gayan added that listing waters as “impaired” requires the state to develop restoration plans for them and also may make them eligible for state and federal cleanup funds, which can help speed improvements.
Public comments may be submitted by Dec. 29 and can be emailed to DNR at DNRImpairedWaters@wisconsin.gov, or sent by mail to Ashley Beranek, DNR, Water Evaluation Section (WY/3), Box 7921, Madison, Wis., 53707. Comments postmarked or received by Dec. 29 will be considered before submitting the final draft list to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for approval, the DNR said in the release.