Wednesday, June 23, 2010

DNR Approves Some Rules Keeping Phosphorus Out Of State Waters

The environmental group Clean Wisconsin explains:

Clean Wisconsin

Your environmental voice since 1970.


Contact: Amber Meyer Smith, Program Director, 608.251.7020 ext. 16, 608.347.6026 (cell)

Natural Resources Board Passes Rules to Reduce Phosphorus in Wisconsin’s Waters

New Policies will Help Reduce Water Pollution from Farms, Factories and Sewage Treatment Plants

Madison, Wis. – The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board took an important step toward reducing unsightly algae blooms and cleaning Wisconsin’s lakes, rivers and streams today by voting to strengthen rules that reduce phosphorus pollution from farms, factories and sewage treatment plants.

“Our lakes, rivers and streams not only provide exceptional recreation opportunities for Wisconsin residents, but also support thriving fishing and tourism industries crucial to our state’s economy,” said Amber Meyer Smith, program director at Clean Wisconsin.

“Unfortunately, phosphorus pollution threatens the quality of Wisconsin’s waterways, and we applaud the Natural Resources Board for taking an important step toward cleaning and protecting our invaluable waters.”

Phosphorus is a nutrient that promotes weed and algae growth and enters Wisconsin’s waters when it runs off farm fields or is discharged from factories and sewage treatment plants.

A single pound of phosphorus can cause 500 pounds of unsightly, foul-smelling algae growth.

Nearly one-half of Wisconsin’s waterways are so polluted due to runoff that the federal government lists them as impaired, and reports of human illness and dog deaths resulting from blue-green algae blooms have been rising in recent years.

“Wisconsin’s waterways are currently in trouble,” said Smith. “Frequent unsightly, smelly algae blooms impair ecosystems, decrease our enjoyment of Wisconsin waters, decrease tourism revenue in the state, and sometimes even threaten our health.”

The two rule revisions adopted by the NR Board today will strengthen existing policies aiming to reduce phosphorus pollution from its two major sources.

The first, known as the phosphorus rule, limits the amount of phosphorus wastewater treatment plants and factories are allowed to discharge.

The second strengthens NR151, an administrative rule governing the amount of phosphorus carried into waterways when fertilizer and manure run off farm fields.

The strengthened policies must now be approved by the state Legislature to become effective.

“By reducing phosphorus pollution from its two major sources, the policies adopted by the NR Board today take an important step toward cleaning and restoring Wisconsin’s waters,” said Smith. “These policies can help us all look forward to cleaner lakes, rivers and streams in Wisconsin, and we urge the Legislature to fully approve these important measures.”


Clean Wisconsin, an environmental advocacy organization, protects Wisconsin’s clean water and air and advocates for clean energy by being an effective voice in the state legislature and by holding elected officials and polluters accountable. Founded in 1970 as Wisconsin’s Environmental Decade, Clean Wisconsin exposes corporate polluters, makes sure existing environmental laws are enforced, and educates citizens and businesses.

On behalf of its 10,000 members and its coalition partners, Clean Wisconsin protects the special places that make Wisconsin such a wonderful place to live, work and play.

Phone: 608-251-7020, Fax: 608-251-1655, Email:, Website:

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