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Storm water projects

In order to be eligible for funding from the Clean Water Fund Program (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 Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System (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, including storm sewer rerouting and land acquisition, when intended solely for drainage and flood control.


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 application process

Application guidance and considerations are available under the "How to Apply" tab on the EL 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 must be submitted online to the DNR for each project for which you will be seeking an environmental loan.
    • Oct. 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.
  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.
    • Subsidized interest rates apply to water quality and existing non-industrial development components of a project.
    • Market rates apply to portions of each project determined to be solely for flood control, for industrial areas, and 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 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
For information on this topic, contact:
Lisa Bushby, CWFP Coordinator

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Disclaimer of guidance: This document is intended solely as guidance and does not contain any mandatory requirements except where requirements found in statute or administrative rule are referenced. Any regulatory decisions made by the Department of Natural Resources in any matter addressed by this guidance will be made by applying the governing statutes and administrative rules to the relevant facts. Program implementation details are outlined in the governing administrative codes and statutes: §§ 281.58 and 281.59, Wis. Stat., and ch. NR 162, Wis. Adm. Code.