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NR 140 groundwater quality standards update

As part of a continuing commitment to protect public health and the environment, the DNR periodically updates groundwater quality standards in ch. NR 140, Wis. Adm. Code. Since its establishment in 1985, the Natural Resources Board has approved amendments to NR 140 twelve times in order to revise existing standards, establish new standards and clarify rule language.

Cycles and recommendations

In accordance with state groundwater law, the DNR periodically submits a list of substances to the Department of Health Services (DHS) and requests that they review available toxicologic information and provide recommendations for new and/or revised groundwater standards. These lists submitted to DHS are designated as NR 140 "cycle" lists. DHS then prepares a Scientific Support Document back to DNR which describes the information and methodology used to develop each recommended standard.

Economic impact analysis

The rulemaking requirement to prepare an economic impact analysis (EIA) and solicit information for its preparation was part of 2011 Wisconsin Act 21. An EIA must be prepared for every permanent proposed rule before the Natural Resources Board can authorize public hearings on the rules, per s. 227.137, Wis. Stats.. The analysis must include information on the economic effect of the proposed rule on specific businesses, business sectors, public utility ratepayers, local governmental units and the state's economy as a whole.

Cycle 10

Cycle 10

The DNR submitted a list of substances designated "Cycle 10" to DHS in March 2018. DHS responded with recommendations to DNR in June 2019. A plain language summary of each of the compounds in Cycle 10 is available at DHS's Recommended Groundwater Enforcement Standards.

Cycle 10 rulemaking timeline

Spring 2018
Summer 2019
Fall 2019

Video: 11/12/19 Public Hearing

Jan. 2020 - Winter 2020/2021 (We are here)
Winter 2020 - Spring 2021
  • Stakeholder group meetings complete
  • EIA public comment period
Summer/Fall 2021
  • Public hearings on proposed rule
  • Public comment period
Winter 2021/2022
  • NRB meeting for adoption
  • Rule approved by governor
  • Legislative review/hearings
Summer 2022
  • Rule signed by DNR Secretary
  • Rule published and effective

Cycle 10 stakeholder meetings

Stakeholder meetings

Given the amount of public interest in this effort and its potential economic impacts, DNR will convene a series of stakeholder meetings to provide guidance on the rule changes.

Meetings will be held in winter 2020 through spring 2021. Meeting dates, times and locations are listed in the table below. The meetings will be public noticed, and prior to each meeting the department will provide an agenda and any materials for review.

The stakeholder meetings are open to the public, and once the meetings are completed, there will be additional opportunities for public input and comments throughout the remainder of the rulemaking process.

Past meetings
Meeting date and time Location Topic Resources
October 14, 2020
9:30 AM
This meeting was held remotely via Zoom only.

August 25, 2020
9:30 AM

This meeting was held remotely via Zoom only. Pesticides
July 21, 2020
9:30 AM
This meeting was held remotely via Zoom only. VOCs
June 9, 2020
9:30 AM
This meeting was held remotely via Zoom only. Metals and metalloids
March 23, 2020 This meeting was held remotely via Zoom only, following Governor Evers' order limiting the size of gatherings due to the risk of COVID-19 PFAS rules
February 6, 2020 Madison
State Natural Resources Building (GEF 2)
Room G09
101 S Webster St
PFAS rules

Cycle 11

Cycle 11

The DNR submitted a list designated "Cycle 11" to DHS in April 2019.

Cycle 11 rulemaking timeline

Spring - Fall 2019 (We are here)
Fall 2020
  • DHS response to letter from DNR
Winter 2020
  • Statement of Scope approved by DNR secretary, governor, NRB
Spring 2021
  • Rule drafting
  • Advisory workgroups
Fall - Winter 2021
  • Preparation of proposed rule
Spring 2022
  • Solicitation of information for economic impact analysis
  • Draft of EIA and public hearings
Summer - Winter 2022
  • Public hearings on proposed rule
  • NRB meeting for adoption
  • Rule approved by governor
Spring - Summer 2023
  • Legislative review/hearings
  • Rule signed by DNR Secretary
Fall 2023
  • Rule published and effective

Rulemaking procedures

Rule change process, public input and timeline

The DNR creates and revises administrative rules to implement statutes enacted by the Wisconsin State Legislature [exit DNR]. Administrative rules have the full force and effect of law.

Rulemaking is an extensive process and there are many internal steps [PDF] that DNR and the NRB must follow during a rulemaking effort. Public participation is a critical component of agency rulemaking. There are numerous opportunities to participate in the DNR rulemaking process. For permanent rules, the entire process generally takes about 31 months from initiation to effective date of rule revisions.