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Public water system plan review

Basic process

Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 108, allows the Department of Natural Resource up to 90 days to approve, return or deny submitted plans for new construction or improvements relating to a public water system.

Average review process

  • Water Mains: 40-45 days
  • All other plan types: 60-90 days

COVID-19 Submittal Process

In response to the public health emergency, we are updating the plan and specification submittal process for community water system improvements that are required under ch. NR 811, Wis. Adm. Code, to the following:

  1. Effective March 12, 2020, all community water system improvements must be submitted digitally.
  2. Send an email directly to, containing:
    1. Subject line:
      1. Water System name;
      2. Project type (water main, well rehab, tank painting, well site investigation report, etc.);
    2. Body:
      1. External web link in which digital plan review submittals can be accessed and downloaded (e.g., ftp website, Microsoft OneDrive, Citrix Files, Dropbox, etc.)
    3. Do not include any attachments on the email.

You will receive an automated email indicating that your email has been received. A plan review engineer will be assigned and will conduct the review of your project as normal. You can check the status of your submittal, the project ID and the assigned plan reviewer at any time using the 'Plan Review Web Query' tool. Please note, all staff are currently working remotely. As a result, email correspondence with the plan reviewer is preferred over phone calls.

Additionally, all reports, correspondence, etc. to be submitted to DNR field representatives should be emailed to them directly, until further notice.


Approval requirements

Wisconsin Administrative Code

Code Title
NR 108 [exit DNR] Requirements for Plans and Specifications Submittal for Reviewable Projects and Operations of Community Water Systems, Sewerage Systems and Industrial Wastewater Facilities
NR 809 [exit DNR] Safe Drinking Water
NR 810 [exit DNR] Requirements for the Operation and Maintenance of Public Water Systems
NR 811 [exit DNR] Requirements for the Operations and Design of Community Water Systems
NR 812 [exit DNR] Well Construction and Pump Installation
NR 820 [exit DNR] Groundwater Quantity Protection

When an approval is required

An approval is required for:

  • any new or existing community water system making improvements, extensions or alterations which may affect the quality or quantity of water delivered.
  • wellhead protection plans for new wells servicing municipal water systems.

Community water system means a public water system which serves at least 15 service connections used by year-round residents or regularly serves at least 25 year-round residents. Any water system serving 7 or more homes, 10 or more mobile homes, 10 or more apartment units or 10 or more condominium units shall be considered a community water system unless information is provided by the owners indicating that 25 year-round residents will not be served.

Municipal water system means a community water system owned by a county, city, village, town, town sanitary district, utility district or public institution as defined in s. 49.10 (12) (f) 1., Stats, or a privately-owned water utility serving any of the above.

Other-than-Municipal water system means a community water system that is not a municipal water system. Typically, these water systems serve mobile home parks, apartment complexes, subdivisions and condominium associations.

Public water system means a system providing piped water to the public for human consumption, if the system has at least 15 service connections or regularly serves an average of at least 25 individuals daily at least 60 days out of the year.

See the link below for specific plan approval requirements for chemical feed projects:

When is plan review required (Chemical changes)

In addition to approval of the plans and specifications all new community water systems must receive capacity certification prior to placing them into service. See the Capacity Development web pages for information on capacity development and forms to be completed by other-than-municipal water systems seeking capacity certification.

Guidelines for plan submittal

A complete submittal varies with type of project and whether there is a submittal checklist for the type of project.

Submittal Requirements by Project Type

All copies of plans and specifications for projects at municipal or subdivision water systems must have a professional engineer’s seal or signature indicating the plans were prepared under the supervision of a professional engineer licensed in Wisconsin.

There are no fees for submitting a plan approval.

Project status

Plan Review Web Query

Related topics

Policy & cross-program issues

The DNR reviews all water mains serving community water systems that are to be installed in street right-of-way or in dedicated public easements. The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) [exit DNR] reviews all private water mains.