DNR Lists Updated Impaired Waters

Nov 28, 2017

Credit Wisconsin DNR

Phosphorus continues to be a main culprit as the DNR recently issued it's annual list of impaired waters in Wisconsin.

DNR impaired waters coordinator Ashley Beranek says an impaired water means a waterbody did not meet the use that has been assigned it, like recreation. She says can you swim in the water, or eat fish from it, or is it healthy for aquatic animals in it, are examples of criteria the DNR uses.

Every two years, the federal Clean Water Act requires states to publish a list of all waters that are not meeting water quality standards. Beranek says 82 percent of state waters are considered healthy. In the proposed update, the DNR proposes to add 225 new waters.

A majority of the listing additions were waters that exceed total phosphorus criteria ..

"...specifically regarding phosphorus, we look specifically where there might be an issue or we're monitoring new areas and there has been a phosphorus issue there awhile but we just hadn't found it before. When it comes to trends, we're actually seeing a decrease in phosphorus when we look at long-term trends monitoring....."

Abnormal levels of phosphorus get in the waters by fertilizer runoff, though it does occur naturally at much lower levels.

The list identifies 183 new listings for lakes or rivers that exceed new, more restrictive phosphorus standards. For 2018, 35 waterbodies are proposed to be removed from the list.

More information on area waterbodies on the list and other details are at the DNR website by putting 'impaired' in the search box.