Wisconsin Ballast Water General Permit
This page contains resources for the Wisconsin Ballast Water General Permit, including the online questionnaire in lieu of on-board inspections, information relating to the General Permit process (including fees, renewal and termination) and contacts.
Ballast Water Questionnaire (Note: On Board Inspections May Also Be Conducted)
In order to help protect vessel crews and accommodate COVID-19 safety protocols as may be necessary, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) staff will be implementing a hybrid inspection approach with the combination of on-board ballast water inspections and/or online questionnaires prior to Wisconsin arrivals. [Note: only one questionnaire for each vessel needs to be completed each season (March - the following January) regardless of how many Wisconsin arrivals a vessel makes].
When the questionnaire is submitted, a copy of your response will be emailed to you for your records. Please email DNRWisconsinBallastWater@wisconsin.gov if you have questions or concerns. Thank you for your assistance.
Ballast Water General Permit Process
Ocean-going vessels and Great Lakes vessels required to obtain the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Vessel General Permit (VGP), that operate within waters of the state of Wisconsin and that weigh 300 gross tons or more, or have a ballast tank capacity of at least 2,113 gallons (8 cubic meters) and are 79 feet (24.1 meters) in length or more, shall obtain coverage under Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System Ballast Water General Permit WI-0063835-3 prior to operating in Wisconsin waters. The Wisconsin Ballast Water General Permit is intended to cover the discharge of ballast water from vessels into Lake Michigan, Lake Superior or other waters where a vessel may transit within the boundaries of Wisconsin. Information regarding the permit application process, annual renewal, termination process and contact information is provided below.
Permit Application Process
The following steps must be taken to obtain coverage for ballast water discharges under the general permit for each vessel planning to operate in Wisconsin's portion of either Lake Superior or Lake Michigan.
- Complete an electronic EPA Notice of Intent (eNOI) and obtain a PDF file of the eNOI through the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) eNOI website
Note: A copy of an eNOI previously submitted through the EPA website can be found at EPA Vessels Search.
- Submit a PDF file of the eNOI and a written request for permit coverage to the Wisconsin DNR for each vessel operating in Wisconsin waters, at least 30 days prior to arrival, to the following email address:
- Within approximately 30 days after submittal of the eNOI to the WDNR, your vessel will receive a letter conferring permit coverage under Wisconsin Ballast Water General Permit (WI-0063835-3) along with an invoice for associated permit fees that must be paid before operating in Wisconsin Waters.
- Application fee $655 (U.S. dollars). Permit coverage is authorized for a period of five years from the date of permit coverage indicated on the DNR letter (as long as the annual fees are also paid) and must be reapplied for every five years. Note: The Frank LoBiondo Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2018, or Vessel Incidental Discharge Act (VIDA), was passed on Dec. 4, 2018. Based on the department's initial assessment of the act's language regarding cost recovery for program implementation, the state is authorized to bill up to $1,000 U.S. per calendar year per vessel. Accordingly, the 2019 application fee will be reduced from the historic $1,200 amount to $655 U.S. for new or renewed permits.
- Annual administrative fee $345 (U.S. dollars). Collected each calendar year a vessel holds an active Wisconsin ballast water permit.
Note: Refunds are not available on any fees once paid.
- Download a copy of the Ballast Water General Permit WI-0063835-3.
Once downloaded, the ship master and crew should read it carefully and become familiar with its requirements. A copy must be kept onboard the vessel at all times.
- After submittal of a vessel's eNOI to the DNR, paying the associated invoice and downloading of the permit, the vessel is allowed to operate in Wisconsin provided it complies with all permit conditions.
Note: Without submission of the eNOI to the DNR or paying the Wisconsin invoice, you are not authorized under the permit to operate your vessel in Wisconsin waters.
Annual Administrative Fee Process
Each calendar year, the DNR will send invoices to vessels with active permits starting each spring. Typically, you will have 60 days to pay this fee in order to keep your ballast water permit active. All information on how to complete the billing transaction will be included with your invoice. Note: The annual administrative fee applies even if you do not operate your vessel in Wisconsin waters during a given calendar year while a vessel possesses an active permit.
Important Considerations Regarding Fees
- Please provide us with up-to-date information for vessel or company contact information and billing details (especially for a vessel under a leasing agreement) if circumstances have changed since your last correspondence with the DNR.
- Permit fees paid by wire have often been short by bank transaction fees, or are in currencies other than U.S. dollars, and these payments cannot be accepted. Please be sure invoice amounts are paid in full to avoid delays.
Permit coverage for a vessel expires after five years, and it is necessary to reacquire that permit coverage to continue operations in Wisconsin waters. Permit renewals are acquired by following the same steps as permit applications. Please be sure to reapply within approximately 60 days prior to your permit termination date (termination date is five years from the authorization date on your most recent permit conveyance letter).
If you decide you no longer need a Wisconsin Ballast Water General Permit, you may relinquish it by simply submitting one of the following two forms to DNRWisconsinBallastWater@wisconsin.gov:
Upon receipt of a termination notice, your permit coverage will be rescinded and you will have to reapply for a permit if you decide to return to Wisconsin waters. Please note that refunds are not available on any fees once paid.
The following email address is the primary point of contact with the DNR for ballast water discharges and is monitored by multiple staff. Please include this address in any e-correspondence or invoice, permitting and policy questions.
In addition to the above email address, you are encouraged to simultaneously contact one of the ballast water inspectors to assist you in acquiring necessary documents or information for ballast water operations in Wisconsin waters.
Lake Michigan ballast water inspector
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
1027 W St Paul Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53233
Lake Superior ballast water inspector
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
1701 N 4th St
Superior, WI 54880