Landmark Water Quality Rules Approved as of September 8

As summer comes to a close, Wisconsin is headed for cleaner waters. September 8 marks the passage of a set of state rules, NR 102 and 217 (the “phosphorus rules”) and NR 151, to address algae-forming phosphorus pollution in Wisconsin’s waterways.

“For 30 years, phosphorus has been under-regulated, contaminating nearly half our lakes, rivers and streams, and marring Wisconsin’s reputation for clean, clear waters,” said Melissa Malott, Clean Wisconsin’s water program director and attorney. Malott was on the DNR’s advisory committee for the phosphorus rules and publicly commented on NR 151. “Wisconsin is the first state to offer an adaptive, customizable rule package for improving water quality; together, these rules are pioneering a new, cleaner future for our water while staying true to the Clean Water Act.”

These rules address the main water quality problems – phosphorus and manure runoff – affecting Wisconsinites’ ability to use waterways for fishing and swimming.

The phosphorus rule package sets a limit to how much phosphorus will be allowed in waterways, and that limit will protect waterways into the future. Once achieved, algae blooms will largely be a thing of the past.

The phosphorus rule uses all the flexibility of the Clean Water Act to allow phosphorus reductions in the most cost-effective manner. Using an “Adaptive Management” tool, those permitted will have options to most cost-effectively reduce phosphorus pollution.

For more information about Clean Wisconsin, call 608.251.7020 or visit