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NR 151 rule changes

As part of the effort to address groundwater issues and protect drinking water and public health across Wisconsin, the Department of Natural Resources worked with key public and agriculture industry stakeholders, state agencies, the State Legislature, the governor and the general public to update Ch. NR 151, Wis. Adm. Code [exit DNR].


Consistent with state statutes, NR 151 directs the DNR to promulgate rule performance standards to meet water quality standards and address specific issues either geographically or by activity. The NR 151 rule modification is to develop a targeted performance standard to address land spreading of manure on soils in sensitive areas of the state — i.e. where depth to bedrock is shallow and the bedrock is fractured (also described as karst topography).

Some of the proposed changes to NR 151 were consistent with recommendations in the Groundwater Collaboration Workgroup final report, issued in June 2016. The changes approved by the State Legislature and governor may also help shape any future additional rule-making efforts.

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.

Public participation is a critical component of agency rulemaking. There are numerous opportunities to participate in the DNR rulemaking process. There are many internal steps [PDF] that DNR and the Natural Resources Board (NRB) must go through during the rule promulgation process. For permanent rules, the entire process generally takes about 31 months from initiation to promulgation.

Summer 2016
  • Statement of Scope approved by DNR secretary, governor, NRB
Fall 2016-Spring 2017
  • Tech. Advisory Committee (TAC) meetings — open to public
  • Preparation of proposed rule
  • Solicitation of information for economic impact analysis
Spring 2017
  • TAC meetings complete
  • NRB notification (hearing authorization already approved)
Summer 2017-Fall 2017
  • EIA public comment period
Fall 2017
  • Public hearings on proposed rule
  • Public comment period
Fall 2017-Winter 2018
  • NRB meeting for adoption
  • Rule approved by governor
Winter 2018
  • Legislative review/hearings
Summer 2018
  • Rule signed by DNR secretary, rule published
(We are here)

Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)

Given the size and scope of the effort required for rule changes of this type and the need for technical input, the DNR formed a Technical Advisory Committee to provide guidance on the rule changes. The committee reviewed proposed changes to NR 151 to address targeted performance standards for sensitive areas of the state.

Six meetings were held in fall 2016 through spring 2017 at the locations listed below. The meetings were public noticed, and prior to each meeting the department provided an agenda and any materials for review. The TAC meetings were open to the public, and once the TAC meetings were completed, there were additional opportunities for public input and comments throughout the remainder of the rule-making process.

Date Location Resources
Oct. 28, 2016 Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP),
DATCP Board Room CR 106,
2811 Agriculture Dr.
Madison, WI 53718
Nov. 15, 2016 DNR Central Office (GEF2)
Room G09
Dec. 13, 2016 James P. Coughlin Center
625 E. County Rd. Y
Oshkosh, WI 54903
Jan. 19, 2017 DNR Central Office (GEF2)
Room G09
Feb. 16, 2017 Great Wolf Lodge
1400 Great Wolf Dr.
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965
March 14, 2017 DNR Central Office (GEF2)
Room G09

Economic impact analysis

The rule-making requirement to prepare an economic impact analysis (EIA) and solicit information for its preparation was part of 2011 Wisconsin Act 21 [PDF exit DNR]. 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. [exit DNR].

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.