Skip to main content

Plans & specifications for reviewable structures & systems

At least 90 days before beginning construction, existing or proposed Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO) must submit plans and specifications for reviewable construction projects to the DNR for approval. DNR approval of these reviewable structures and systems is a requirement of the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (WPDES) permit program.

Reviewable structures or systems

Reviewable structures and systems include:

  • manure storage facilities;
  • runoff control structures;
  • manure treatment or transfer systems, including those related to animal housing;
  • digesters for biogas production;
  • permanent spray irrigation or other land application systems;
  • groundwater monitoring systems;
  • compost facilities;
  • feed and other raw materials storage; and
  • other structures or systems associated with the storage, containment, treatment, or handling of manure or process wastewater.

Plans and specifications, evaluations and post-construction report submission

The e-permitting system does not require any special software and is completely web-based and available on any internet browser. To begin, go to water permit applications. There are instructions and an electronic “Ask for Help” option available. Once the report is signed and submitted, only DNR staff are able to upload additional documents for the project file.

  • To submit, go to water permit applications, select “Agricultural Livestock Operations”, then “Available” under the Online Process header. Persons submitting plans and specs, evaluations and post-construction reports will need a WAMDS ID, unless they already have one. Register for a WAMS ID [exit DNR].
  • To find documents, go to water permit applications, and select “Track”. Items that are displayed can be further filtered by type (for CAFOs, select “Livestock Operations”), county and status. To find just plans and specs, in the search box type, “ag-pns”.

Plans and specifications submittal requirements

At least 90 days prior to beginning construction projects, submit your plans and specifications along with the Reviewable Facilities & Systems Checklist via the DNR’s e-permitting system for Water Permit Applications. If the plans and specifications are substantially complete, the DNR may still request additional information (clarification or revisions) which you must then submit directly to the DNR review engineer.

  • The DNR’s ePermitting System requires one electronic PDF copy of the plans and specification to be uploaded. Files that are to be uploaded cannot exceed 15 MB in size and must be broken into smaller file sizes. Once submitted, the DNR will send an acknowledgement of receipt letter and will begin review of the plans and specifications for substantial completeness
  • After the plans and specs are considered complete, and during the review process, a paper copy may be requested.

Evaluation and post-construction submittal requirements

To assist in the preparation of an engineering evaluation report this checklist may be used. The purpose of this document is to provide a checklist to assist in creating an evaluation report which demonstrates compliance with the evaluation requirements of s. NR 243.16, Wis. Adm. Code, and to streamline evaluation reviews. Using this checklist is not required; however, it provides items the reviewing CAFO engineer may use to assist in confirming or verifying the conclusions presented within evaluation report. This checklist is unnecessary to be submitted along with the evaluation.

  • The DNR’s ePermitting System requires one electronic PDF copy of the reports to be uploaded. Files that are to be uploaded cannot exceed 15 MB in size and must be broken into smaller file sizes. Once submitted, the DNR will send an acknowledgement of receipt letter.
  • A paper copy is not necessary unless requested.

Paper copies

Mail requested paper copies to:
CAFO Intake Specialist, WT/3
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
PO Box 7185
101 S Webster St
Madison, WI 53707-7185

DNR 90 day review time and potential delays

The DNR has 90 days after receiving your complete plans and specifications to approve, reject or approve with conditions. The DNR may take longer to evaluate existing structures. Failure to submit all necessary information may delay review, or result in rejection of the plans and specifications.

Pre-approval of modifications of reviewable structures and systems

DNR approval also applies to proposed modifications of existing reviewable facilities or systems (e.g., expansion of a waste storage facility). However, the DNR may approve field design changes (after approval of initial plans and specifications) over the phone or via email to prevent construction delays.

Construction not recommended until approval

The DNR strongly recommends against any construction until you have approval for the plans and specifications. You may need to correct deficiencies if the location or design does not meet NR 243 requirements or they are not modifiable to meet those requirements.

For new CAFOs submitting a WPDES permit application, all previously constructed facilities and systems (regardless of age) are subject to engineering evaluation (at the owner's expense) for review by the DNR.

Non-reviewable CAFO construction projects

Non-reviewable construction projects (such as barns and milking parlors) do not require DNR approval. However, such projects may include reviewable components (such as waste transfer pipes and reception tanks) that do require DNR approval. Additionally, DNR identification of unexpected site constraints may require layout changes for such structures or systems. It is generally in your interest to wait for any construction until you have received DNR approval of the reviewable facilities and systems plans and specifications.

CAFO construction projects may require other permits.

60-day post-construction report requirement

Within 60 days after construction (or modification) of a reviewable facility or system, a post-construction report is required.

Administrative rules and technical standards for reviewable structures and facilities