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Great Lakes Compact General Permits Proposed

Environmental Law Alert Thomas P. McElligott, Lauren G. Harpke

On September 27, 2011, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ("WDNR") proposed three draft Water Use General Permits to implement general permitting requirements under the Great Lakes Compact. The proposed permits will be available for public comment until October 31, 2011.

Under Wisconsin regulations implementing the Great Lakes Compact, a permit will be required as of December 8, 2011 for all water withdrawals from the Great Lakes basin that average 100,000 gallons per day or more in any 30-day period. General permits may be issued for withdrawals that do not exceed 1,000,000 gallons per day for 30 consecutive days, whereas an individual permit will be required for withdrawals exceeding 1,000,000 gallons. The three proposed permits now available for public comment will implement the general permitting requirements under the Compact for existing withdrawals, new and increased withdrawals, and temporary construction dewatering activities.

Proposed Water Use General Permit No. 1 will cover certain water systems existing prior to December 8, 2008 at which the owner intends to withdraw water within the volumetric range allowing for coverage under a general permit. New or increased withdrawals within the threshold range for general permit coverage will be addressed under proposed Water Use General Permit No. 2. If the owner of an existing withdrawal covered under General Permit No. 1 wishes to increase its withdrawal amount above that specified in the Notice of Coverage, the owner must apply for a new general or individual permit as required based on the size of the proposed new withdrawal. General Permits No. 1 and No. 2 are valid for a term of 25 years from the date of issuance.

Proposed Water Use General Permit No. 3 covers temporary construction dewatering activities for owners that intend to withdraw a cumulative amount averaging 100,000 gallons per day or more in any 30-day period but not more than 1,000,000 gallons per day for any 30 consecutive days. A permittee covered under General Permit No. 3 for temporary construction dewatering must terminate coverage within 20 days of completing construction dewatering activities.

In order to operate under any of the three proposed General Permits, the owner must have been issued a Notice of Coverage. A Notice of Coverage under any of the three proposed general permits will fulfill the statutory requirement for persons to register with the WDNR any water supply systems with the capacity to withdraw an average of 100,000 gallons per day. The permittee is, however, still required to measure and record withdrawal amounts and follow certain reporting requirements. The WDNR will maintain a database of the withdrawal amounts for all withdrawals covered under any of the proposed general permits. Additionally, the permittee will be required to pay a water use fee that will be invoiced by the WDNR each year with payment due by June 30th. Under General Permit No. 2 for new or increased withdrawals, the permittee is further required to implement the applicable water conservation and water use efficiency requirements of an approved water conservation plan and follow the associated reporting requirements.

For additional information, please contact Tom McElligott at (414) 277-5531 / thomas.mcelligott@quarles.comLauren Grahovac Harpke at (414) 277-5183 / lauren.harpke@quarles.com or your Quarles & Brady attorney.