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Great Lakes Compact Rule Packages Available for Public Comment until July 7, 2010

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

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources ("DNR") is required to promulgate rules to implement the Great Lakes Compact. DNR recently published three proposed rule packages regarding Water Use Fees, Water Use Registration and Reporting, and Water Use Conservation and Efficiency. These rule packages are now available for public comment and hearing.

The first rule package proposes two different types of water fees in a new chapter NR 850. First, any person who has a water supply system with the capacity to withdraw from the waters of the state averaging 100,000 gallons per day ("GPD") or more would be required to pay an annual fee of $125 to DNR by June 30th of each calendar year. This flat fee would replace the previous water withdrawal fee and associated registration program. Draft NR 850.04(2) would impose a second type of water use fee on water withdrawals of more than 50,000,000 gallons per year from the "waters of the state within the Great Lakes basin." The fee on Great Lakes withdrawals increases proportionally based on the amount of water withdrawn and is capped at $9,500.

The second rule package contains new registration and reporting requirements. Proposed chapter NR 856 would require any person with the "capacity to withdraw from waters of the state" - in an amount averaging 100,000 GPD or more in any 30-day period - to register the withdrawal within six months of the section's effective date. The registration requirement would apply to all withdrawals over the threshold amount and is not limited to withdrawals from the
Great Lakes Basin.

If registration is required under NR 856, then the facility would also be required to determine the monthly volume of water withdrawn using specified methodologies. If a registered withdrawal amounted to more than an average of 100,000 GPD, the person responsible for the withdrawal will be required to file reports with DNR by March 1st of each calendar year. All such withdrawal records and reports must be maintained for three years.

The third proposed rule package addresses water conservation and use efficiency measures. Draft chapter NR 852 includes different conservation requirements applicable to three tiers of new or increased withdrawals. Tiers 1 and 2 apply to new and increased withdrawals from the Great Lakes Basin in amounts that require coverage under a general permit or individual permit respectively. Tier 3 includes new or increased diversions to a straddling community or county, new and increased intrabasin transfers regulated under Wis. Stats. § 281.346(4)(d), or new and increased withdrawals resulting in a water loss averaging more than 2,000,000 GPD in any 30-day period regulated under Wis. Stats. § 281.35(4).

The draft rules regarding Water Use Fees, Water Use Registration and Reporting, and Water Use Conservation and Efficiency will be available for public comment until July 7, 2010. Public hearings on these rule packages will be held at the following times and locations:

  • June 28, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. - Milwaukee, WI

  • June 29, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. - Green Bay, WI and Ashland, WI
  • June 30, 2010 at 6:00 p.m. - Madison, WI and Wausau, WI

Additional information about DNR's progress on the Great Lakes Compact, including public hearing notice and copies of the draft rules, are available here.

DNR expects to have the following rule packages available for public comment in Fall 2010: Water Supply Service Area Plan, Water Use Public Participation, Water Loss and Consumptive Use, and Water Use Permitting.

For additional information, please contact Tom McElligott at (414) 277-5531 /,
Lauren Grahovac Harpke at (414) 277-5183 / or your Quarles & Brady attorney.