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Storm water projects

Storm water carries excessive nutrients, sediments, and other pollutants from streets and parking lots to nearby streams, rivers, and lakes. A municipality can eliminate or reduce storm water runoff pollution in its community by building or improving its storm water infrastructure. The DNR Bureau of Watershed Management provides information regarding the concerns of contaminated storm water runoff in Wisconsin’s waterways.

The Clean Water Fund Program (CWFP) provides affordable financial assistance to municipalities for publicly owned wastewater and water quality-related storm water infrastructure projects that are needed to achieve or maintain compliance with federal and state regulations, such as Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permits. In order to be eligible for funding from the CWFP, storm water projects must lead to or provide treatment to control discharged water quality.

Eligibility and purpose

A municipality receiving financial assistance from the CWFP for a storm water project must have a need to control storm water runoff rates, volumes, and discharge quality as required by any of the following:

  • A WPDES storm water permit issued under subch. 1 of ch. NR 216, Wis. Adm. Code;
  • A performance standard; and/or
  • A plan approved by the department under § 281.41, Wis. Stats., or a storm water management plan.

Ineligible projects

Dams, pipes, conveyance systems and BMPs (best management practices), including storm sewer rerouting and land acquisition, when intended solely for flood control or future development.


Performance Standards

Means nonagricultural performance standards established by the department in ch. NR 151, Wis. Adm. Code, pursuant to §§ 281.16(2), Wis Stats.

Structural Urban Best Management Practice (BMP)

A "structural urban best management practice" or "structural urban BMP" means a practice that is determined to be an effective means of preventing or reducing pollutants generated from urban runoff, including land acquisition, storm sewer rerouting and the removal of structures.

Urban Runoff

Means snowmelt, ice-melt, precipitation and surface drainage conveyed from urban land use in either a diffuse manner, as a nonpoint source or as a point source conveyance regulated under ch. NR 216, Wis. Adm. Code.

WPDES Permit

Means a Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System permit issued under ch. 283, Wis. Stats.

Storm water funding application process

Application guidance and considerations are available under the "How to Apply" tab on the Environmental Loans landing page.

In order to start the application process for an Environmental Loan, you need to complete these steps:

  1. Identify and define the storm water "problem" that needs to be corrected or prevented.
    • This process generally involves a joint effort of the municipality, their consulting engineer, and the DNR regional storm water engineer.
  2. A notice of Intent to Apply with Priority Evaluation and Ranking Formula (ITA/PERF) information and required documentation must be submitted online to the DNR for each project for which you will be seeking an environmental loan.
    • October 31 is the submittal deadline for all ITAs/PERFs for the following state fiscal year (SFY) funding cycle.
    • Exception: Projects that applied for Urban Nonpoint Source and Storm Water Management or Targeted Run-off Management grants can waive the ITA deadline if the proper box on the grant application form is checked.
    • View guidance document: Next Steps for Storm Water Applicants after the ITA.
  3. Storm water plans and specifications must be submitted in an approvable state, reviewed and approved by the department prior to or concurrent with the financial assistance application submittal. Applicants should email the plans and specs to the DNR regional storm water engineer or to the DNR central office storm water engineer (Amy Minser).
  4. A "market rate cost calculation" must be developed and submitted for review in accordance with s. NR 162.04(1)(c), Wis. Adm. Code.
    • Subsidized interest rates apply to the water quality-related portions of a project that serve development in existence at the time of application submittal.
    • Market rates apply to portions of each project determined to be solely for flood control or for development not in existence at the time of the application.
    • "Parallel cost percentage" means the proportion of project costs eligible for below-market-rate financing relative to the total project cost eligible for CWFP financing.
  5. A Financial Assistance Application with all required documentation must be submitted online to the DNR for each project for which you will be seeking an environmental loan.
  6. After application submittal, your project will be assigned to a DNR loan project manager who will guide you through the process of closing on a loan.

User charge system, ordinances & regulations

Storm water projects have slightly different requirements for a User Charge System (UCS) and related ordinances. A UCS is only required for storm water projects that either:

  1. receive a loan collateralized by a utility Revenue pledge, or
  2. require an inter-municipal agreement.

Projects supported by a municipal General Obligation pledge are not required to submit a UCS.

For urban runoff treatment works or structural urban BMP projects, each municipality is required to adopt local regulations for construction sites, and adopt a municipal storm water management plan and ordinance for new development and redevelopment, both consistent with the performance standards and with model ordinances developed by the department under § 281.33(4), Wis. Stats., in accordance with §§ NR 162.06(2)3 and 162.07(7). Ordinances must be in place before funding is awarded.

Contact information
Direct funding questions about storm water projects to:
Sarah Bolitho, CWFP Storm Water Specialist, at 608-960-2927 or
Lisa Bushby, CWFP Coordinator, at 608-358-3330 or

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