On March 28, 2018, Governor Walker signed Wisconsin 2017 ACT 183, which calls for a variety of changes to the way wetlands are managed and permitted in Wisconsin. There are many details and nuances to these changes, which include:

  • A new statewide Wetland Study Council to evaluate Wisconsin’s wetland programs and regulations.
  • Different rules for federal vs. non-federal wetlands.
  • Some delineation reports will be valid for up to 15 years.
  • New permit exemptions for some non-federal wetlands.
  • New artificial wetland definition.
  • Consideration by WDNR to request authority to regulate federal wetlands.

Some of these changes should be in place by mid-summer. WDNR is working to determine how these changes will be implemented. In the meantime, we can help you navigate these changes to keep your construction projects on track. 

Things to Consider for Projects Involving Wetlands in 2018:

  • When will permit applications be submitted?
  • Are there federal or non-federal wetlands on site?
  • Has a delineation ever been completed? If so, when?
  • Do the wetlands qualify as artificial wetlands? 
  • Are the wetlands high quality wetlands (including those adjacent to trout streams)? 
  • Will a storm water permit be required for the project? 

Projects that are currently under development, but won’t be permitted until this summer, may be affected by these rule changes. Some possible scenarios include:

  • An expansion to a building or road project that was originally permitted under WDNR’s NR 216 storm water program and had a wetland delineation completed within the past 15 years may not need to have a new delineation done at this time. 
  • Construction of a building that requires filling in non-federal wetlands might fall under a new, simplified permit notification process, rather than a traditional general permit process. This process should be in place later in 2018. 
  • Determination of artificial wetlands may be simplified based on the criteria and language in the new rules. This would include storm water ponds, which have been caught up in wetland regulatory processes in the recent past. 

To discuss how the upcoming wetland regulatory changes may impact your project, please contact one of our experts.


About the Authors

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Maureen A. McBroom
Environmental Coordinator

Maureen is dedicated to the protection and improvement of Wisconsin’s resources through close collaboration with municipalities and their citizens.  Efficient & effective implementation, driven by strong relationships and communication, are drivers behind her project implementation strategies.  She has experience in the WDNR’s Runoff Program, specifically issuing WPDES Permit coverage for construction site erosion control & long-term storm water plans, industrial storm water sites and municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permittees. Maureen has been with R/M since 2015.

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