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State Innovation Grants

EPA 2005-2006 State Innovation Grants Competition Pre-Proposals

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
State Innovation Grant Proposal


Project Summary Information Page

Under the authority of the Clean Water Act, section 104(b)(3) with consent and support of Scott Hassett, Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Project Title and Location: Superior Environmental Performance in Agriculture — The Wisconsin Approach

Project Category: Environmental Management Systems ( EMS) and Innovations or Alternatives to Permitting

State Agency Applicant: Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

Project Contact: Gordon R. Stevenson, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 7921 Madison, WI 53703 608.267.2759 Fax 608.267.2800 Gordon.Stevenson@dnr.state.wi.us

This project is NOT focused on hazardous waste management and permitting under the Resource conservation and Recovery Act.

This project is NOT being executed in cooperation with or funded by another federal program.

Additional federal regulatory flexibility beyond what EPA allows under its EMS policy is NOT anticipated.

Summary Budget Information [Removed by EPA]

2005-2006 State Innovation Grant Pre-Proposal Narrative

 Superior Environmental Performance in Agriculture—The Wisconsin Approach

Project Category

Environmental Management Systems ( EMS), Innovations or Alternatives to Permitting

Project Description

Wisconsin is a water-rich state with 84,474 stream miles, 1.2 million acres of inland lakes, over 1,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline and an abundant supply of groundwater. Wisconsin is also home to about 38,000 livestock operations. To control polluted runoff from livestock operations, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has a well-established WPDES/NPDES permit program for applicable agricultural operations and a set of agricultural performance standards that apply to all cropland and livestock facilities. Currently WDNR administers 138 livestock operations. That number is expected to grow while the number of state agency administrative and enforcement staff remains the same or face cuts as state budgets are tightened.

This proposal addresses agency and operator administrative workload reduction issues associated with permit issuance while maintaining a high standard of polluted runoff control. WDNR proposes a 2-year research and demonstration pilot program in which a WPDES-permitted agricultural operation demonstrating superior environmental performance in a variety of (cross-media) management areas (water, air, waste, etc.) would be eligible for decreased regulatory oversight by the Department. The pilot will be based on Wisconsin’s Green Tier program that has been used in other industry sectors to award regulatory flexibility to environmentally responsible companies. Monitoring, using volunteers, and public outreach will be included in the project. A successful project that demonstrates superior environmental performance, streamlined permit paperwork and more attention paid to management measures may then be replicated throughout the state’s agricultural sector and may serve as a model for other states in the Great Lakes region.

The State WPDES permit identifies the potential for water pollution from a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation (CAFO) in order to reduce the cause(s) of that pollution. Wisconsin seeks to improve not only water quality but overall environmental quality by following Wisconsin Green Tier Charter principles with a major agricultural producer. We propose to use cross-media coordination in collaboration with various agricultural interests including private organizations, ag-related state and Federal agencies ( University of Wisconsin, Departments of Commerce and Agriculture, and NRCS). Demonstration results will be offered statewide with the potential of Great Lakes region-wide applicability.

Project Activities

The WDNR will identify a large CAFO regulated under ch. NR 243, Wis. Adm. Code, for participation in this project. This project operation will demonstrate the use of Green Tier Charter requirements, water pollution reduction and prevention techniques including best management practices for water quality.

In the context of existing state and federal CAFO regulations, and in light of the selected operation pursuing superior environmental performance, this project will research opportunities for the facility to streamline administrative activities for permit compliance using:

WDNR will conduct and/or coordinate research activities including:

The project will explore innovative options to traditional command-and-control regulatory approaches. Potential tools for achieving superior environmental performance include participation in and/or creation of one or more of the following:

Project Schedule and Timeframe

This project will start with the receipt of the grant award (anticipated to be the start of the FFY2006 -- October 1, 2005) and will end two (2) years later. The estimated schedule of activities is as follows:

Program Criteria

Target Priority Environmental Areas

Agriculture Opportunity to Restore and Maintain Water Quality: A successful project will result in reduction of nutrients and pathogens running off agricultural feedlots to watercourses. These pollutants are responsible for many degraded streams, rivers and lakes that are on EPA’s 303(d) list of impaired waters. The effects of pollutant controls will be monitored and will add to the knowledge base of control technology.

Reduce Greenhouse Gases: The control of air emissions to acceptable standards would be another benefit of a successful project.

Improvement in Results from Project Implementation

The project uses a combination of standard and innovative approaches to achieve environmental results. These results will be measured by environmental, administrative and social indicators.

Potential environmental indicators:

Potential administrative indicators:

Potential social indicators:

The project will build on lessons learned from Environmental Management System programs at the federal and state level, Wisconsin’s Green Tier initiative and Wisconsin’s pollutant trading pilot project. More recently implemented programs such as NRCS’s Comprehensive Nutrient Management Planning, TMDLs and performance standards will also be analyzed for both positive and negative features.

Measuring Improvement and Accountability

Outcomes Goal: Within 2 years of the grant award, an innovative approach will be in place that achieves environmental results that equal or exceed pre-project environmental results, decreased program and operational costs, and increased program and operational efficiencies. Indicators to achieve these objectives are listed above under Improvement in Results from Project Implementation.

Objective 1: In the first year, develop performance measures, criteria and terms of the pilot program.

Objective 2: In the first year, develop and implement a monitoring protocol to measure baseline indicators. Collect baseline data.

Objective 3: At the end of the second year, post-project monitoring will be done.

Transferring Innovation

A project report will be written and distributed to the public through WDNR’s website, ag sector trade associations (PDPW, Wisconsin Dairy Business Association, Farm Bureau) and public advocacy groups (Midwest Environmental Advocates, Centerville CARES) and hard copy upon request. A workshop will be conducted with stakeholder groups to review the report and provide a summary of the workgroup as part of the grant outputs. The report will include:

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