Goals Set for Statewide Phosphorus Reduction

At its Oct. 2 meeting, the state Land and Water Conservation Board (LWCB) unanimously endorsed water quality goals that include a statewide effort to reduce farm phosphorus runoff by at least 30 percent by 2035.

The LWCB is responsible for overseeing management of water quality issues in Wisconsin, and its members represent local governments, farmers, conservation groups and include state agency participants as well as advisers from state organizations and federal agencies.   

A variety of stakeholders met for two years to come up with surface and ground water goals below:

Surface Water Quality Goals

  1. Reduce statewide farm phosphorus runoff by at least 30 percent by 2035 (reductions may vary between watersheds), and make steady interim progress toward that goal.
  2. Meet all watershed Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) targets (combined phosphorus loading from farm and nonfarm sources) within 20 years, or within 20 years of TMDL approval, whichever date is later, and make steady interim progress toward those targets.
  3. Meet phosphorus concentration standards for phosphorus-impaired waters (from both farm and nonfarm sources), so as to remove 90 percent of all phosphorus-impaired waters from the Wisconsin impaired waters list by 2050.

Ground Water Quality Goals

  1. Ensure safe drinking water for all Wisconsin residents. The LWCB supports initiatives toward this goal.
  2. Reduce nitrate and pathogen contamination of groundwater.
  3. Maintain compliance with groundwater standards where those standards are currently being met, and accelerate efforts to restore compliance where the standards are not being met.
  4. Keep Wisconsin agriculture and rural communities vibrant and economically sustainable, while achieving groundwater quality goals.

The LWCB Statement of Endorsement for the water quality goals included the following acknowledgements:

  • The state’s surface and ground water is polluted by point sources, urban nonpoint sources and agricultural nonpoint sources. The variable nature of the extent and sources of surface and groundwater pollution across watersheds of Wisconsin underscores the need for continued and evolving monitoring and research efforts to facilitate data-driven decisionmaking.
  • Wisconsin statutes charge the LWCB with advising Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection on matters relating to nonpoint source pollution.
  • The board’s endorsement of goals is in keeping with its aforementioned mission, and roles and responsibilities.


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