The department is proposing revisions primarily to incorporate changes to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's 590 Nutrient Management Standard. Those changes, in turn, incorporated changes to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources farm runoff standards. Together, the three sets of regulations establish a framework for the state's "nonpoint source" pollution control program. The program works with counties to install and share costs of farmland conservation practices, plan for soil and water conservation and farmland preservation, oversee manure storage and local livestock operations, and train conservation professionals. The proposed changes include new restrictions aimed at keeping manure and other nutrients away from direct conduits to groundwater, while allowing farmers to choose conservation practices that are appropriate for their operations and still protect resources.
Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources leaders are seeking new ways to ensure that they retain crucial institutional knowledge as they unveil a reorganization to wary employees amid a wave of retirements that now includes high-profile managers. DNR shortcomings in hiring and training new workers came to light in June when a state audit linked them to flaws in DNR enforcement of laws aimed at preventing pollution of lakes, streams and drinking water.