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Dane County Land & Water Resources Department

Adaptive Management and Water Quality Trading

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has numeric water quality standards for phosphorus in surface waters. Facilities that have a permit to discharge phosphorus (known as point sources) can upgrade their facility to comply with the phosphorus limits, which can be very costly, or they can offset their pollution through Water Quality Trading (NR 283) and Adaptive Management (NR 217). These programs allow the facility to fund conservation practices in the watershed that reduce phosphorus which is typically a more cost effective alternative to facility upgrades.

The Department has been collaborating with permitted facilities to explore permit compliance options with the goal of bringing both point and nonpoint sources together to create a holistic watershed approach to improve water quality. The long standing relationships that staff have with landowners, communities, agencies, and organizations has resulted in the ongoing successes of these projects. 

Current Projects

Yahara Watershed Improvement Network (WINS) ¦21,570 lbs phosphorus reduced
Project Area: Yahara River Watershed - 536 square miles (344,000 acres)
Assisted agricultural producers with over 600 conservation practices.

Dane-Iowa Wastewater Treatment Facility ¦ Projects starting in 2020
Project Area: Black Earth Creek Watershed - 100 square miles (65,000 acres)
Continue to work with Dane-Iowa to identify projects and conservation practices to improve water quality.

Springfield Clean Water, LLC ¦ 148 lbs phosphorus removed
Project Area: 4.8 square miles (3,100 acres)
Installed three grassed waterways to address gully erosion.

Cross Plains Wastewater Treatment Facility ¦ 150 lbs phosphorus reduced
Project Area: Upper Black Earth Creek Watershed - 25 square miles (16,225 acres) Barnyard abandonment project.