by Steph Adams
Clean Water Coalition Coordinator
River Alliance of Wisconsin
After countless hours of discussion, committee work, rule drafting, public hearings, and redrafting, Wisconsin’s polluted runoff rules are nearly complete. Once enacted, the set of nine separate codes, totaling over 700 pages, will be the most comprehensive state program of its kind in the nation. The rules include performance standards, or goals, for agriculture, construction, developed areas, and golf courses, and the best management practices for reaching the standards.
The Natural Resources Board and the Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Board voted unanimously this winter to send the rules to the Legislature for final approval. However, two public hearings at the Legislature revealed that there were a few remaining “holes” in the rule drafts that must be filled before the entire package becomes law. Whether or not buffer strips between agricultural lands and waters should be mandatory or voluntary is one of these holes. The Legislature sent the rules back to the Natural Resources Board for further negotiation on this issue. Final passage is expected this spring.