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Great Lakes Compact Implementation Rules

The DNR is writing two administrative rules related to the Great Lakes Compact:

  • Water Supply Service Area Planning (NR 854)
  • Great Lakes Diversions and Intrabasin Transfers (NR 851)

Water Supply Service Area Planning Rule - NR 854

  • A water supply service area plan is a document communities use to conduct long-term water supply planning and to demonstrate that a public water supply system can supply an adequate and sustainable amount of water. Under s. 281.348, Wis. Stats public water supply systems serving a population of 10,000 or more are required to prepare a water supply service area plan by December 31, 2025. A small number of these plans will need to be approved by the DNR. Water supply service area plans require approval by DNR if communities need a new or increased withdrawal from the Great Lakes or for communities that apply for a new or increased diversion of Great Lakes water. The proposed rule contains water supply service area plan requirements and procedures for public water supply systems to follow when preparing water supply service area plans.
  • Water supply service area requirements are a part of Wisconsin’s Great Lakes Compact implementation legislation, and these requirements are Wisconsin-specific. The proposed rule will not change or revise any component of the Great Lakes Agreement or Compact.

Great Lakes Diversions and Intrabasin Transfers Rule - NR 851

  • This proposed rule aids in Wisconsin’s implementation of the Great Lakes Compact and regulates diversions of Great Lakes water. A diversion is defined as a transfer of water from the Great Lakes basin into the Mississippi River Basin via pipe, canal, tanker truck, etc. Diversions also include intrabasin transfers, or the movement of water from one Great Lakes watershed to another (for example, water transferred from the Lake Superior to Lake Michigan basin).
  • The Great Lakes Compact bans diversions of Great Lakes water out of the Great Lakes Basin with limited exceptions. These exceptions allow either a community that straddles the subcontinental divide or a community within a county that straddles the subcontinental divide to apply to the DNR to divert water for public water supply purposes.
  • The purpose of the proposed diversion rule is to clearly define the application requirements and the DNR’s review processes for Great Lakes diversions.

The rules may be viewed at:

The DNR held a public comment on the proposed rules from Sept. 5 to Oct. 12, 2023 and a public hearing on Oct. 5, 2023. The DNR considered public comments when revising rule language. The DNR anticipates the rules will go to the Natural Resource Board for approval in January 2024.

Contact Nicole Clayton for questions regarding the diversion rule or Chris Fuchsteiner for questions regarding the water supply service area planning rule.

Rulemaking timeline

Spring 2022
Summer 2022
  • NRB scope approval
  • Begin rule drafting
Fall 2022/Winter
  • Stakeholder outreach
  • Preparation of proposed rule
  • Public informational meeting on rule updates
Summer/Fall 2023
  • Economic impact comment solicitation
Fall 2023/Winter
  • Public comment period and hearing on proposed rules
  • NRB meeting for adoption of rules
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Spring/Summer 2024
  • Governor approval of rules
  • Legislative review
Fall 2024
  • Rules become effective