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Surface water grant program

Mississippi River

Looking over the backwaters of the Mississippi River at Rush Creek State Natural Area.

NR 193 rule changes

The bureaus of Water Quality and Community Financial Assistance propose to consolidate 5 related administrative code chapters governing 3 cost-sharing grant programs into one new administrative code chapter.

The consolidated code will be called chapter NR 193. It will create a comprehensive surface water grant program that provides financial assistance to local groups to protect and restore surface water and aquatic ecosystems and control aquatic invasive species.

Consolidated Surface Water Grant Program

The consolidated code will clarify policies, improve customer service and satisfaction, improve administrative consistency and efficiency and create better and more cost-effective environmental outcomes that serve local needs and advance department management objectives for state surface waters.

The surface water grant program helps communities protect and improve waterbodies, supporting surface water management from start to finish.

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Administrative code consolidation

You can participate in the rulemaking process. Wisconsin Statutes authorize the Wisconsin DNR to create and revise administrative rules to implement authorized programs, and public participation is a critical component of agency rulemaking. There are numerous opportunities to participate in the rulemaking process. For ch. NR 193, rule documents will be hosted on the department's proposed permanent rules webpage and updated as rulemaking proceeds. You can find the information you need to review the rule posted near the bottom of the table under the NRB Order Number WY-18-15.

The public comment period on the rule language has passed, but you can still participate in building the consolidated Surface Water Grant Program. Program guidance that will help applicants and grantees navigate the program is currently being drafted and will be available for public review and comment early in 2020. Be sure to submit your comments when the public comment period opens. Sign up for our email newsletter to receive timely notification.

Chapter NR 193 timeline

December 2015
  • County conservation meeting soliciting input
February 2016
  • Scope statement published in the Administrative Register
Summer 2016
  • Six regional listening sessions to gather input, 92 stakeholders in attendance
  • Survey soliciting feedback from counties and AIS coordinators, 42 respondents
  • Staffing vacancy
October 2018
  • Virtual and in-person listening session held in collaboration with the River Alliance of Wisconsin
December 2018
  • Draft Economic Impact Analysis (EIA)
March 2019
April 2019
June 2019
  • Rule public comment period opens, June 17, 2019
July 2019
  • Public hearing on proposed rule, July 10, 2019 at 10 a.m.
    • Eau Claire – UW-Eau Claire, Centennial Hall, Room 2904, 1698 Park Avenue
    • Green Bay – UW-Green Bay, Instructional Services Building, Room 1034, 2420 Nicolet Drive
    • Milwaukee – UW-Milwaukee, Lubar Hall, Room S250, 3202 N Maryland Avenue
    • Rhinelander – Nicolet Area Technical College, Tamarack Center, Room 110, 5364 College Drive
    • Superior – UW-Superior, Swenson Hall, Room 2004, 1610 Weeks Avenue
  • Public comment period closes, July 24, 2019
October 2019
  • NRB meeting for adoption
Winter 2020
  • Legislative review
June 2020
  • Rule signed and published
  • Public comment period opens on rule guidance
July 2020
  • Guidance document final revisions & publication

Current status

The new Surface Water Grant rule was promulgated in the summer of 2020. Go to the Wisconsin State Legislature’s website for the full online version of Chapter NR 193.

Rule subchapters

1. General provisions
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Administrative policies and general procedures

2. Education & planning
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...for lakes, rivers and AIS

3. County lake grants
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County-wide plans for lake protection

4. Surface water mgmt
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Nearshore and in-water practices, plan implementation

5. AIS control
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Integrated pest management

6. Monitoring & prevention
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Core contractual services for AIS prevention and lake monitoring

7. Land acquisition
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Fee simple or easement land acquisition for conservation purposes

Our consolidation effort has four main goals:

  1. Unite subprograms under one consistent set of procedures and policies.
    Example: Cost-share rates differ among lakes, rivers and AIS subprograms.
    Outcome: United procedures will streamline administrative processes and make the grant program easier for customers to navigate.
  2. Update management standards with reference to new statutory programs.
    Example: Aquatic invasive species management approaches are defined according to invasive species status under s. NR 40, Wis. Admin. Code.
    Example: Aquatic invasive species control shall be conducted in accordance with the principles of integrated pest management.
    Outcome: The surface water grant program will support management and planning actions in accordance with a modern understanding of best management practices while integrating current regulatory frameworks.
  3. Support management at the watershed scale.
    Example: The new education and planning chapter supports work on lakes, rivers, wetlands and AIS, paving the way for grantees to address complex water quality problems that cross ecosystem boundaries.
    Example: "Lake (and) river ecosystem" are used in statutes, but not defined. NR193 defines them with reference to the watershed concept.
    Outcome: Sound management of surface waters often requires a watershed-based approach, these changes encourage grantees to 'look upstream' when planning projects.
  4. Enhance accountability, allow for performance standards.
    Example: Cost containment measures are required when a service or equipment cost exceeds $1,000.
    Example: Program-approved protocols are required for certain planning and management practices.
    Outcome: The surface water grant funds will be efficiently and effectively applied, maximizing the support of high-quality, science-based planning and management.
Contact information
For more information contact:
Alison Mikulyuk
Lakes and rivers team leader
Laura Macfarland
Surface water grant manager