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281.55   Financial assistance program.
281.56   Financial assistance program; sewerage systems.
281.57   Financial assistance program; point source pollution abatement.
281.58   Clean water fund program; financial assistance.
281.59   Environmental improvement fund; financial management.
281.60   Land recycling loan program.
281.61   Safe drinking water loan program.
281.62   Other drinking water quality activities.
281.625   Drinking water loan guarantee program.
281.63   Financial assistance program; combined sewer overflow abatement.
281.65   Financial assistance; nonpoint source water pollution abatement.
281.66   Urban nonpoint source water pollution abatement and storm water management program.
281.665   Municipal flood control and riparian restoration program.
281.67   Watershed projects.
281.68   Lake management planning grants and lake monitoring and protection contracts.
281.69   Lake management and classification grants and contracts.
281.695   Aids to municipalities for prevention and abatement of water pollution.
281.70   River protection grants.
281.71   Lake management project grants; river protection grants; purchases.
281.72   River protection; contracts with nonprofit organizations.
281.75   Compensation for well contamination and abandonment.
281.77   Damage to water supplies.
281.81   Definitions.
281.83   Remedial action in the Great Lakes and their tributaries.
281.85   Great Lakes protection fund share.
281.87   Great Lakes contaminated sediment removal.
281.91   State agency personnel to report water pollution.
281.92   Limitation.
281.93   Hearings on certain water use actions.
281.94   Investigation of alleged water withdrawal violations.
281.95   Remedies; water withdrawal violations.
281.96   Visitorial powers of department.
281.97   Records; inspection.
281.98   Penalties.
281.99   Administrative forfeitures for safe drinking water violations.
Ch. 281 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also chs. NR 102, 103, 104, 105, 809, 811, 812, and 845, Wis. adm. code.
subch. I of ch. 281 SUBCHAPTER I
281.01 281.01 Definitions. In this chapter, unless the context requires otherwise:
281.01(3) (3)“Department" means the department of natural resources.
281.01(4) (4)“Garbage" means discarded materials resulting from the handling, processing, storage and consumption of food.
281.01(5) (5)“Industrial wastes" includes liquid or other wastes resulting from any process of industry, manufacture, trade or business or the development of any natural resource.
281.01(6) (6)“Municipality" means any city, town, village, county, county utility district, town sanitary district, public inland lake protection and rehabilitation district or metropolitan sewage district.
281.01(7) (7)“Other wastes" includes all other substances, except industrial wastes and sewage, which pollute any of the surface waters of the state. The term also includes unnecessary siltation resulting from operations such as the washing of vegetables or raw food products, gravel washing, stripping of lands for development of subdivisions, highways, quarries and gravel pits, mine drainage, cleaning of vehicles or barges or gross neglect of land erosion.
281.01(8) (8)“Owner" means the state, county, town, town sanitary district, city, village, metropolitan sewerage district, corporation, firm, company, institution or individual owning or operating any water supply, sewerage or water system or sewage and refuse disposal plant.
281.01(9) (9)“Person" means an individual, owner, operator, corporation, limited liability company, partnership, association, municipality, interstate agency, state agency or federal agency.
281.01(10) (10)“Pollution" includes contaminating or rendering unclean or impure the waters of the state, or making the same injurious to public health, harmful for commercial or recreational use, or deleterious to fish, bird, animal or plant life.
281.01(11) (11)“Refuse" means all matters produced from industrial or community life, subject to decomposition, not defined as sewage.
281.01(12) (12)“Secretary" means the secretary of natural resources.
281.01(13) (13)“Sewage" means the water-carried wastes created in and to be conducted away from residences, industrial establishments, and public buildings as defined in s. 101.01 (12), with such surface water or groundwater as may be present.
281.01(14) (14)“Sewerage system" means all structures, conduits and pipe lines by which sewage is collected and disposed of, except plumbing inside and in connection with buildings served, and service pipes from building to street main.
281.01(15) (15)“Solid waste" means any garbage, refuse, sludge from a waste treatment plant, water supply treatment plant or air pollution control facility and other discarded or salvageable materials, including solid, liquid, semisolid, or contained gaseous materials resulting from industrial, commercial, mining and agricultural operations, and from community activities, but does not include solids or dissolved material in domestic sewage, or solid or dissolved materials in irrigation return flows or industrial discharges which are point sources subject to permits under ch. 283, or source material, as defined in s. 254.31 (10), special nuclear material, as defined in s. 254.31 (11), or by-product material, as defined in s. 254.31 (1).
281.01(16) (16)“System or plant" includes water and sewerage systems and sewage and refuse disposal plants.
281.01(17) (17)“Wastewater" means all sewage.
281.01(18) (18)“Waters of the state" includes those portions of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior within the boundaries of this state, and all lakes, bays, rivers, streams, springs, ponds, wells, impounding reservoirs, marshes, watercourses, drainage systems and other surface water or groundwater, natural or artificial, public or private, within this state or its jurisdiction.
281.01(19) (19)“Water supply" means the sources and their surroundings from which water is supplied for drinking or domestic purposes.
281.01(20) (20)“Waterworks" or “water system" means all structures, conduits and appurtenances by means of which water is delivered to consumers except piping and fixtures inside buildings served, and service pipes from building to street main.
281.01(21) (21)“Wetland" has the meaning given in s. 23.32 (1).
281.01 History History: 1995 a. 227; 1999 a. 9; 2001 a. 6.
subch. II of ch. 281 SUBCHAPTER II
Subch. II of ch. 281 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also chs. NR 110 and 121, Wis. adm. code.
281.11 281.11 Statement of policy and purpose. The department shall serve as the central unit of state government to protect, maintain and improve the quality and management of the waters of the state, ground and surface, public and private. Continued pollution of the waters of the state has aroused widespread public concern. It endangers public health and threatens the general welfare. A comprehensive action program directed at all present and potential sources of water pollution whether home, farm, recreational, municipal, industrial or commercial is needed to protect human life and health, fish and aquatic life, scenic and ecological values and domestic, municipal, recreational, industrial, agricultural and other uses of water. The purpose of this subchapter is to grant necessary powers and to organize a comprehensive program under a single state agency for the enhancement of the quality management and protection of all waters of the state, ground and surface, public and private. To the end that these vital purposes may be accomplished, this subchapter and all rules and orders promulgated under this subchapter shall be liberally construed in favor of the policy objectives set forth in this subchapter. In order to achieve the policy objectives of this subchapter, it is the express policy of the state to mobilize governmental effort and resources at all levels, state, federal and local, allocating such effort and resources to accomplish the greatest result for the people of the state as a whole. Because of the importance of Lakes Superior and Michigan and Green Bay as vast water resource reservoirs, water quality standards for those rivers emptying into Lakes Superior and Michigan and Green Bay shall be as high as is practicable.
281.11 History History: 1995 a. 227 s. 374.
281.11 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also s. NR 103.05, Wis. adm. code.
281.11 Annotation A possessor of land who withdraws ground water for beneficial purposes is not liable for interference with another's water use unless the withdrawal causes unreasonable harm by lowering the water table or artesian pressure, the ground water forms an underground stream, or the withdrawal has a substantial effect on a watercourse or lake. State v. Michels Pipeline Construction, Inc., 63 Wis. 2d 278, 217 N.W.2d 339 (1974).
281.11 Annotation A municipality's supplying of water to its inhabitant is not a proprietary function immune from the provisions of ch. 144 [now chs. 280-299]. The protection of public health is a matter of state-wide concern over which the legislature may exercise its police powers to insure a healthful water supply. Village of Sussex v. DNR, 68 Wis. 2d 187, 228 N.W.2d 173 (1975).
281.11 Annotation The state intended to create a comprehensive program for well construction supervision through the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Under a liberal construction of its powers, DNR cannot be limited to regulating how groundwater is obtained. If a municipal body could make well construction contingent upon its own permit, based on its own standards, a DNR permit would be wholly insignificant, and the legislature's stated goal of creating a uniform scheme to supervise the extraction of groundwater would be eviscerated. The state legislature's explicit grant of authority to DNR preempts a municipal ordinance regulating the withdrawal of groundwater. Lake Beulah Management District v. Village of East Troy, 2010 WI App 127, 329 Wis. 2d 641, 791 N.W.2d 385, 09-2021.
281.11 Annotation Through ss. 281.11 and 281.12, the legislature has delegated the state's public trust duties to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) in the context of its regulation of high capacity wells and their potential effect on navigable waters. For all proposed high capacity wells, the legislature has expressly granted DNR the authority and a general duty to review all permit applications and to decide whether to issue the permit, to issue the permit with conditions, or to deny the application, which provides DNR with the discretion to undertake the review it deems necessary for all proposed high capacity wells, including the authority and a general duty to consider the environmental impact of a proposed high capacity well on waters of the state. Lake Beulah Management District v. DNR, 2011 WI 54, 335 Wis. 2d 47, 799 N.W.2d 73, 08-3170.
281.11 Annotation Although the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) public trust authority has been expanded by the courts beyond the plain language of the Wisconsin Constitution, s. 227.10 (2m) restricts that authority by withdrawing DNR's ability to implement or enforce any standard, requirement, or threshold, including as a term or condition of a permit issued by the agency, unless explicitly permitted in statute or rule. Neither s. 281.11 or 281.12 explicitly allows DNR to require any term or condition on high capacity well permits. Therefore, ss. 281.11 and 281.12 do not give DNR the authority to require or impose any term or condition absent explicit statutory or rule-based language sanctioning that specific term or condition. OAG 1-16.
281.11 Annotation The public trust doctrine. 59 MLR 787.
281.11 Annotation Theories of water pollution litigation. Davis. 1971 WLR 738.
281.11 Annotation Carrying capacity controls for recreation water uses. Kusler. 1973 WLR 1.
281.11 Annotation Groundwater: Diminishing Resource, Increasing Conflict. Westerberg. Wis. Law. July/Aug. 2015.
281.12 281.12 General department powers and duties.
281.12(1)(1)The department shall have general supervision and control over the waters of the state. It shall carry out the planning, management and regulatory programs necessary for implementing the policy and purpose of this chapter. The department also shall formulate plans and programs for the prevention and abatement of water pollution and for the maintenance and improvement of water quality.
281.12(2) (2)The department, on behalf of and at the direction of the governor, may submit an application to the federal environmental protection agency under 33 USC 1344 (g) seeking the delegation of authority to this state to administer its own individual and general permit program for the discharge of dredged or fill material into the navigable waters of this state. If the federal environmental protection agency delegates this authority to this state, the department may assume that authority.
281.12(3) (3)The department, upon request, shall consult with and advise owners who have installed or are about to install systems or plants, as to the most appropriate water source and the best method of providing for its purity, or as to the best method of disposing of wastewater, including operations and maintenance, taking into consideration the future needs of the community for protection of its water supply. The department is not required to prepare plans.
281.12(5) (5)The department may enter into agreements with the responsible authorities of other states, subject to approval by the governor, relative to methods, means and measures to be employed to control pollution of any interstate streams and other waters and to carry out such agreement by appropriate general and special orders. This power shall not be deemed to extend to the modification of any agreement with any other state concluded by direct legislative act, but, unless otherwise expressly provided, the department shall be the agency for the enforcement of any such legislative agreement.
281.12 History History: 1995 a. 227 ss. 376, 383, 385, 987; 1995 a. 378 s. 42; 2017 a. 183.
281.12 Cross-reference Cross-reference: See also chs. NR 809, 811, 812, and 845, and ss. NR 1.50, 1.95, and 103.05, Wis. adm. code.
281.12 Annotation The Department of Natural Resources' general supervision and control over the state's waters is not so sweeping as to authorize the department to ban all activities that might adversely affect water quality or to establish limitations for any one specific industry. Rusk County Citizen Action Group, Inc. v. DNR, 203 Wis. 2d 1, 552 N.W.2d 110 (Ct. App. 1996), 95-3125.
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