281.96   Visitorial powers of department.
281.97   Records; inspection.
281.98   Penalties.
281.99   Administrative forfeitures for safe drinking water violations.
Ch. 281 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also chs. NR 102, 103, 104, 105, 809, 811, 812, and 845, Wis. adm. code.
subch. I of ch. 281 SUBCHAPTER I
DEFINITIONS
281.01 281.01 Definitions. In this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise:
281.01(3) (3) "Department" means the department of natural resources.
281.01(4) (4) "Garbage" means discarded materials resulting from the handling, processing, storage and consumption of food.
281.01(5) (5) "Industrial wastes" includes liquid or other wastes resulting from any process of industry, manufacture, trade or business or the development of any natural resource.
281.01(6) (6) "Municipality" means any city, town, village, county, county utility district, town sanitary district, public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district or metropolitan sewage district.
281.01(7) (7) "Other wastes" includes all other substances, except industrial wastes and sewage, which pollute any of the surface waters of the state. The term also includes unnecessary siltation resulting from operations such as the washing of vegetables or raw food products, gravel washing, stripping of lands for development of subdivisions, highways, quarries and gravel pits, mine drainage, cleaning of vehicles or barges or gross neglect of land erosion.
281.01(8) (8) "Owner" means the state, county, town, town sanitary district, city, village, metropolitan sewerage district, corporation, firm, company, institution or individual owning or operating any water supply, sewerage or water system or sewage and refuse disposal plant.
281.01(9) (9) "Person" means an individual, owner, operator, corporation, limited liability company, partnership, association, municipality, interstate agency, state agency or federal agency.
281.01(10) (10) "Pollution" includes contaminating or rendering unclean or impure the waters of the state, or making the same injurious to public health, harmful for commercial or recreational use, or deleterious to fish, bird, animal or plant life.
281.01(11) (11) "Refuse" means all matters produced from industrial or community life, subject to decomposition, not defined as sewage.
281.01(12) (12) "Secretary" means the secretary of natural resources.
281.01(13) (13) "Sewage" means the water-carried wastes created in and to be conducted away from residences, industrial establishments, and public buildings as defined in s. 101.01 (12), with such surface water or groundwater as may be present.
281.01(14) (14) "Sewerage system" means all structures, conduits and pipe lines by which sewage is collected and disposed of, except plumbing inside and in connection with buildings served, and service pipes from building to street main.
281.01(15) (15) "Solid waste" means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant or air pollution control facility and other discarded or salvageable materials, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous materials resulting from industrial, commercial, mining and agricultural operations, and from community activities, but does not include solids or dissolved material in domestic sewage, or solid or dissolved materials in irrigation return flows or industrial discharges which are point sources subject to permits under ch. 283, or source material, as defined in s. 254.31 (10), special nuclear material, as defined in s. 254.31 (11), or by-product material, as defined in s. 254.31 (1).
281.01(16) (16) "System or plant" includes water and sewerage systems and sewage and refuse disposal plants.
281.01(17) (17) "Wastewater" means all sewage.
281.01(18) (18) "Waters of the state" includes those portions of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior within the boundaries of this state, and all lakes, bays, rivers, streams, springs, ponds, wells, impounding reservoirs, marshes, watercourses, drainage systems and other surface water or groundwater, natural or artificial, public or private, within this state or its jurisdiction.
281.01(19) (19) "Water supply" means the sources and their surroundings from which water is supplied for drinking or domestic purposes.
281.01(20) (20) "Waterworks" or "water system" means all structures, conduits and appurtenances by means of which water is delivered to consumers except piping and fixtures inside buildings served, and service pipes from building to street main.
281.01(21) (21) "Wetland" has the meaning given in s. 23.32 (1).
281.01 History History: 1995 a. 227; 1999 a. 9; 2001 a. 6.
subch. II of ch. 281 SUBCHAPTER II
WATER RESOURCES
Subch. II of ch. 281 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also chs. NR 110 and 121, Wis. adm. code.
281.11 281.11 Statement of policy and purpose. The department shall serve as the central unit of state government to protect, maintain and improve the quality and management of the waters of the state, ground and surface, public and private. Continued pollution of the waters of the state has aroused widespread public concern. It endangers public health and threatens the general welfare. A comprehensive action program directed at all present and potential sources of water pollution whether home, farm, recreational, municipal, industrial or commercial is needed to protect human life and health, fish and aquatic life, scenic and ecological values and domestic, municipal, recreational, industrial, agricultural and other uses of water. The purpose of this subchapter is to grant necessary powers and to organize a comprehensive program under a single state agency for the enhancement of the quality management and protection of all waters of the state, ground and surface, public and private. To the end that these vital purposes may be accomplished, this subchapter and all rules and orders promulgated under this subchapter shall be liberally construed in favor of the policy objectives set forth in this subchapter. In order to achieve the policy objectives of this subchapter, it is the express policy of the state to mobilize governmental effort and resources at all levels, state, federal and local, allocating such effort and resources to accomplish the greatest result for the people of the state as a whole. Because of the importance of Lakes Superior and Michigan and Green Bay as vast water resource reservoirs, water quality standards for those rivers emptying into Lakes Superior and Michigan and Green Bay shall be as high as is practicable.
281.11 History History: 1995 a. 227 s. 374.
281.11 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also s. NR 103.05, Wis. adm. code.
281.11 Annotation A possessor of land who withdraws ground water for beneficial purposes is not liable for interference with another's water use unless the withdrawal causes unreasonable harm by lowering the water table or artesian pressure, the ground water forms an underground stream, or the withdrawal has a substantial effect on a watercourse or lake. State v. Michels Pipeline Construction, Inc. 63 Wis. 2d 278, 217 N.W.2d 339, 219 N.W.2d 308 (1974).
281.11 Annotation A municipality's supplying of water to its inhabitant is not a proprietary function immune from the provisions of ch. 144 [now chs. 280-299]. The protection of public health is a matter of state-wide concern over which the legislature may exercise its police powers to insure a healthful water supply. Village of Sussex v. DNR, 68 Wis. 2d 187, 228 N.W.2d 173 (1975).
281.11 Annotation The state intended to create a comprehensive program for well construction supervision through the DNR. Under a liberal construction of its powers, the DNR cannot be limited to regulating how groundwater is obtained. If a municipal body could make well construction contingent upon its own permit, based on its own standards, a DNR permit would be wholly insignificant, and the legislature's stated goal of creating a uniform scheme to supervise the extraction of groundwater would be eviscerated. The state legislature's explicit grant of authority to the DNR preempts a municipal ordinance regulating the withdrawal of groundwater. Lake Beulah Management District v. Village of East Troy, 2010 WI App 127, 329 Wis. 2d 641, 791 N.W.2d 385, 09-2021.
281.11 Annotation Through ss. 281.11 and 281.12, the legislature has delegated the state's public trust duties to the DNR in the context of its regulation of high capacity wells and their potential effect on navigable waters. For all proposed high capacity wells, the legislature has expressly granted the DNR the authority and a general duty to review all permit applications and to decide whether to issue the permit, to issue the permit with conditions, or to deny the application, which provides the DNR with the discretion to undertake the review it deems necessary for all proposed high capacity wells, including the authority and a general duty to consider the environmental impact of a proposed high capacity well on waters of the state. Lake Beulah Management District v. DNR, 2011 WI 54, 335 Wis. 2d 47, 799 N.W.2d 73, 08-3170.
281.11 Annotation The public trust doctrine. 59 MLR 787.
281.11 Annotation Theories of water pollution litigation. Davis, 1971 WLR 738.
281.11 Annotation Carrying capacity controls for recreation water uses. Kusler, 1973 WLR 1.
281.12 281.12 General department powers and duties.
281.12(1)(1) The department shall have general supervision and control over the waters of the state. It shall carry out the planning, management and regulatory programs necessary for implementing the policy and purpose of this chapter. The department also shall formulate plans and programs for the prevention and abatement of water pollution and for the maintenance and improvement of water quality.
281.12(3) (3) The department, upon request, shall consult with and advise owners who have installed or are about to install systems or plants, as to the most appropriate water source and the best method of providing for its purity, or as to the best method of disposing of wastewater, including operations and maintenance, taking into consideration the future needs of the community for protection of its water supply. The department is not required to prepare plans.
281.12(5) (5) The department may enter into agreements with the responsible authorities of other states, subject to approval by the governor, relative to methods, means and measures to be employed to control pollution of any interstate streams and other waters and to carry out such agreement by appropriate general and special orders. This power shall not be deemed to extend to the modification of any agreement with any other state concluded by direct legislative act, but, unless otherwise expressly provided, the department shall be the agency for the enforcement of any such legislative agreement.
281.12 History History: 1995 a. 227 ss. 376, 383, 385, 987; 1995 a. 378 s. 42.
281.12 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also chs. NR 809, 811, 812, and 845, and ss. NR 1.50, 1.95, and 103.05, Wis. adm. code.
281.12 Annotation The DNR's general supervision and control over the state's waters is not so sweeping as to authorize the DNR to ban all activities that might adversely affect water quality or to establish limitations for any one specific industry. Rusk County Citizen Action Group, Inc. v. DNR, 203 Wis. 2d 1, 552 N.W.2d 110 (Ct. App. 1996), 95-3125.
281.12 Annotation Through ss. 281.11 and 281.12, the legislature has delegated the state's public trust duties to the DNR in the context of its regulation of high capacity wells and their potential effect on navigable waters. For all proposed high capacity wells, the legislature has expressly granted the DNR the authority and a general duty to review all permit applications and to decide whether to issue the permit, to issue the permit with conditions, or to deny the application, which provides the DNR with the discretion to undertake the review it deems necessary for all proposed high capacity wells, including the authority and a general duty to consider the environmental impact of a proposed high capacity well on waters of the state. Lake Beulah Management District v. DNR, 2011 WI 54, 335 Wis. 2d 47, 799 N.W.2d 73, 08-3170.
281.13 281.13 Surveys and research.
281.13(1) (1)
281.13(1)(a)(a) The department is authorized to act with the U.S. geological survey in determining the sanitary and other conditions and nature of the natural water sources in this state, for the following purposes:
281.13(1)(a)1. 1. To determine the nature and condition of the unpolluted natural water sources.
281.13(1)(a)2. 2. To determine to what extent the natural water sources are being contaminated by sewage from cities, villages and towns.
281.13(1)(a)3. 3. To determine to what extent the natural water sources are being polluted by other wastes.
281.13(1)(a)4. 4. To assist in determining the best sources of water.
281.13(1)(b) (b) The department is hereby empowered and instructed to make the necessary rules and regulations, in conjunction with the U.S. geological department, to carry this subsection into effect.
281.13(3) (3) The department may conduct scientific experiments, investigations, waste treatment demonstrations and research on any matter under its jurisdiction. It may establish pilot plants, prototypes and facilities in connection therewith and lease or purchase land or equipment.
281.13 History History: 1995 a. 227 ss. 372, 382; 1995 a. 378 s. 40; 1997 a. 35.
281.14 281.14 Wisconsin River monitoring and study.
281.14(1) (1) In this section:
281.14(1)(a) (a) "Nonpoint source" has the meaning given in s. 281.16 (1) (e).
281.14(1)(b) (b) "Point source" has the meaning given in s. 283.01 (12).
281.14(2) (2) The department shall conduct a program to monitor and study the introduction of nutrients from point sources and nonpoint sources into the Wisconsin River from the headwaters of the river to the Castle Rock Flowage dam. The department shall seek to do all of the following under this subsection:
281.14(2)(a) (a) Identify the amounts of nutrients being introduced into the river.
281.14(2)(b) (b) Characterize and quantify the nutrients, in particular nitrogen and phosphorus, introduced into the river from nonpoint sources relative to climate, land use, soil type, elevation, and drainage.
281.14(2)(c) (c) Collect water quality information for locations on the river itself and for major tributaries and major impoundments to use in evaluating the biological, physical, and chemical properties of the water and to use as data in watershed and river models.
281.14(2)(d) (d) Use watershed and river models and the information collected under this subsection and from other sources to forecast the effect on water quality of different methods of reducing the amounts of nutrients introduced into the river.
281.14(2)(e) (e) Develop tools to use in selecting and implementing methods of reducing the amounts of nutrients introduced into the river.
281.14 History History: 2009 a. 28; 2013 a. 20.
281.15 281.15 Water quality standards.
281.15(1) (1) The department shall promulgate rules setting standards of water quality to be applicable to the waters of the state, recognizing that different standards may be required for different waters or portions thereof. Water quality standards shall consist of the designated uses of the waters or portions thereof and the water quality criteria for those waters based upon the designated use. Water quality standards shall protect the public interest, which include the protection of the public health and welfare and the present and prospective future use of such waters for public and private water systems, propagation of fish and aquatic life and wildlife, domestic and recreational purposes and agricultural, commercial, industrial and other legitimate uses. In all cases where the potential uses of water are in conflict, water quality standards shall be interpreted to protect the general public interest.
281.15(2) (2) In adopting or revising any water quality criteria for the waters of the state or any designated portion thereof, the department shall do all of the following:
281.15(2)(a) (a) At least annually publish and provide public notice of water quality criteria to be adopted, revised or reviewed in the following year.
281.15(2)(b) (b) Consider information reasonably available to the department on the likely social, economic, energy usage and environmental costs associated with attaining the criteria and provide a description of the economic and social considerations used in the establishment of the criteria.
281.15(2)(c) (c) Establish criteria which are no more stringent than reasonably necessary to assure attainment of the designated use for the water bodies in question.
281.15(2)(d) (d) Employ reasonable statistical techniques, where appropriate, in interpreting the relevant water quality data.
281.15(2)(e) (e) Develop a technical support document which identifies the scientific data utilized, the margin of safety applied and any facts and interpretations of those data applied in deriving the water quality criteria, including the persistence, degradability and nature and effects of each substance on the designated uses, and which provides a summary of the information considered under this section.
281.15(3) (3)Subsection (2) does not apply to rules promulgated under this section by the department for any substance before November 10, 1987.
281.15(4) (4) By April 1, 1989, the department shall review, in accordance with sub. (2), and as necessary revise all water quality criteria, except those for dissolved oxygen, temperature, pH and ammonia, adopted under this section before November 10, 1987.
281.15(5) (5) The department shall comply with this section with respect to all water quality criteria adopted or revised after November 10, 1987.
281.15 History History: 1995 a. 227 s. 377; 1995 a. 378 s. 41.
281.15 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also chs. NR 102, 103, 104, 105, 106, 207, and 213 Wis. adm. code.
281.16 281.16 Water quality protection; nonpoint sources.
281.16(1)(1) Definitions. In this section:
281.16(1)(a) (a) "Agricultural facility" means a structure associated with an agricultural practice.
281.16(1)(b) (b) "Agricultural practice" means beekeeping; commercial feedlots; dairying; egg production; floriculture; fish or fur farming; grazing; livestock raising; orchards; poultry raising; raising of grain, grass, mint and seed crops; raising of fruits, nuts and berries; sod farming; placing land in federal programs in return for payments in kind; owning land, at least 35 acres of which is enrolled in the conservation reserve program under 16 USC 3831 to 3836; and vegetable raising.
281.16(1)(c) (c) "Livestock operation" means a feedlot or other facility or a pasture where animals are fed, confined, maintained or stabled.
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2011-12 Wisconsin Statutes updated through 2013 Wis. Act 380 and all Supreme Court Orders entered before Dec. 13, 2014. Published and certified under s. 35.18. Changes effective after Dec. 13, 2014 are designated by NOTES. (Published 12-13-14)