February 9, 2016

Paving the Way for Innovative Phosphorus Management

MADISON- Senator Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) issued the following statement on the Senate passage of SB 567 which would pave the way for EPA approval of an innovative phosphorus reducing practices. This bill supplements 2013 Wisconsin Act 378 which allowed DNR to apply for a statewide multi-user variance for businesses to meet alternative phosphorus standards in exchange for providing payments into county nonpoint programs.

“Our goal in introducing this legislation is to clean up our valuable waterways by greatly reducing their phosphorus input while still being mindful of water utility ratepayers and Wisconsin manufacturers’ need to remain competitive in a global marketplace,” Cowles said.

Because nonpoint pollution is one of the leading causes of water quality problems in Wisconsin, it seems counterproductive to require municipalities and industries to spend tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on additional treatment that will only reduce a small percentage of the overall phosphorus loads.

2013 Wisconsin Act 378 created a unique but simple mechanism for point sources to direct funds to existing county run nonpoint programs – programs with staff, standards, and accountability. This program will get real results for our waters.

Senate Bill 567 which passed today modifies the original legislation to mirror EPA’s recent August 2015 guidance for analyzing statewide variance requests. “The bill creates a Wisconsin application that is up to date with EPA requirements, therefore significantly increasing the probability that this innovative point/nonpoint phosphorus reduction program will become a reality in Wisconsin very soon.”