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 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:
- 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 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 EPA eNOI to the DNR, you are not authorized under the permit to operate your vessel in Wisconsin waters.
- Within approximately 30 days after submittal of the eNOI to the DNR, 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.
- 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.
Annual administrative fee process
Each calendar year, the DNR will send invoices to vessels with active permits. 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.
Invoices have typically been sent near the end of a calendar year, but this has been variable due to programmatic and Legislative dynamics. The department hopes to begin collection of annual administrative fees earlier in the calendar year on a more consistent schedule and will try to keep you updated on the progression of this timing.
Some 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
2300 N Dr MLK Jr Dr
Milwaukee WI 53212
Lake Superior ballast water inspector
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
1701 N 4th St
Superior WI 54880