By Mark Riedel, DNR Rock River TMDL Coordinator
Our Rock River Basin community has made exceptional progress this past year with our collective Rock River Recovery efforts and implementation of the Rock River Basin TMDL. While most of our newsletters and communications share updates about tasks remaining, deadlines, and upcoming work to be addressed, we’d like to take this opportunity to celebrate the past year by reviewing some highlights:
• The next Rock River Recovery Quarterly Networking Forum will be held in March with a great group of speakers focusing on Local implementation of Water Quality Restoration Projects.
• DNR staff have worked extensively with our municipal partners and communities to issue new WPDES waste-water permits for well over half of the permitted facilities in the Rock River Basin. These new permits include Water Quality Based Effluent Limits (WQBEL) consistent with the TMDL wasteload allocations. Largely as a result of this, we’ve seen a surge in interest in building watershed projects to support Water Quality Trading and Adaptive Management permit compliance options.
• DNR has developed technical guidance and a strategy for implementing TMDL limits for MS4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems) permittees. Municipalities regulated under the General Stormwater MS4 permit are in the first stages of implementation with a TMDL planning process during their current permit term. The Madison Area MS4 permit is under revision and will be out for external review early in 2016.
• The Agriculture/NPS Sector Team, with the ongoing support of our counties, DATCP, and US EPA, has made great strides in developing the agricultural NPS implementation strategy (often referred to as the “County Template”) via the County Land and Water Resource Management Plans.
• We’ve negotiated NPS watershed project grant requirements and TMDL Planning/Implementation requirements with US EPA.
• Monthly newsletter subscriptions, updates and readership has ballooned – a year ago we had just over 300 subscribers and we’re at well over 900 today.
• The new Rock River TMDL website has been published.
• Quarterly Networking Forums have been very popular and well attended. Feedback received from attendees indicates the forums are an effective means of facilitating communications, encouraging collective efforts for problem solving, and achieving many of our shared goals.
• The Farmer-Led model for Agricultural TMDL Implementation is maturing and gaining acceptance as a local control, grass-roots model that allows Farmers to develop their own innovative solutions that support NPS implementation.
• The Education & Outreach Sector Team has accomplished many of the objectives in the original E&O plan and are now drafting the second version of the plan.
We’re looking forward to the coming year and building on all of our shared progress and efforts. If you’d like to learn more, visit the Rock River Recovery website and sign up for our monthly newsletter.
Rock River Recovery: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/tmdls/rockriver/
Rock River Recovery newsletter: http://content.govdelivery.com/accounts/WIDNR/bulletins/127b139