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Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Announces December 8, 2011 Permitting Deadline

Starting December 8, 2011, all Wisconsin industries that withdraw 100,000 gallons or more of water per day, or 70 gallons or more per minute, from any water source, will be required to have a Water Use Permit issued by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (“WDNR”). The permitting requirement is expected to affect several industries across the state, including large crop irrigators, cranberry farmers, power plants, paper companies, public water systems, golf courses, fish farms, mining operations, and Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (“CAFOs”).

As further specified by Wisconsin Administrative Code NR 860, which went into effect on October 1, 2011, and Wisconsin Statutes Section 281.346, there generally will be two types of permits issued by the WDNR – General Permits and Individual Permits. General Permits, which are valid for 25 years, will be given to those withdrawers that average between 100,000 and 999,999 gallons of water per day in any 30-day period.  Individual Permits will be required for withdrawers of 1,000,000 gallons or more per day for 30 consecutive days and are valid for only 10 years. Another main difference between General and Individual permits is the requirements/restrictions on transferring permits. General permits may be transferred to a new owner at any time so long as the WDNR is notified of such transfer. Individual permits, on the other hand, require approval from WDNR before a transfer can occur. 

WDNR will issue automatic Permits prior to the December 8, 2011 deadline to withdrawers that had a water withdrawal prior to December 8, 2008 and registered that withdrawal with WDNR’s Water Use Program. All other withdrawers will need to apply for a permit with WDNR.  Automatic Permits will be issued based upon a withdrawers’ capacity to withdraw, and not on the withdrawers’ actual withdrawing activities, as WDNR lacked sufficient historical information on all withdrawers to determine actual levels. To that end, many withdrawers may be provided permits that do not fit their actual operations. Such withdrawers can request from WDNR to be dropped from an Individual to a General Permit, or to be dropped from the program in its entirety.  In the event a withdrawer pulls out of the program altogether but later increases its withdrawal activities to a level requiring a Permit, such withdrawer will be considered a “new withdrawer” and be required to apply for a Permit.

WDNR has released draft copies of the proposed General Permits and is accepting public comment on same until October 31, 2011. The draft permits can be found here.

©2020 MICHAEL BEST & FRIEDRICH LLPNational Law Review, Volume I, Number 281



About this Author

linda h, bochert, partner, michael best law firm, environmental regulation
Of Counsel

Linda has spent her career in the arena of environmental regulation. Bringing her 17 years of experience as a state regulator, for 24 years she has continued to help our clients establish and maintain effective working relationships with state and federal environmental regulatory agencies. Linda has served in various policy advisory roles to state agencies, from both inside and outside of state government, including the Wisconsin Departments of Natural Resources, Agriculture and Revenue. 

Clients have consistently benefited from her unique understanding of the workings of regulatory...

Michelle Wagner Ebben, Construction, Real Estate, Land Use Practice

Michelle provides strategic counsel and representation to clients involved in a range of construction, real estate and project development matters.

Representative work includes:

  • Complex real estate purchase, sale, and leasing transactions
  • Entitlement processes
  • Easements, licenses, and rights-of-entry agreements
  • Developing and implementing best practices on large-scale, high-ticket construction, and development projects
  • Negotiating and drafting construction-related contracts
  • Handling construction related disputes, such as contractor and design defect cases, lien claims, insurance coverage claims, and other alternative dispute resolution (ADR) matters
  • Resolving zoning and land use issues