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A watershed approach to water quality issues began with proposed state regulation of phosphorus for some point source dischargers. In 1996, two communities in Wisconsin were dealing with newly, proposed phosphorus removal limits. They, along with their consultant, Earth Tech, proposed a study to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), the state regulatory agency, to determine the impact of the proposed limits on the Rock River. Since no organization or structure existed for determining requirements, funding, or managing such a study, the Rock River Watershed Partnership was formed.

The original objective of the Partnership was to share data, ideas, and to potentially fund a watershed-wide evaluation of phosphorus in the Rock River in Wisconsin. The Partnership has grown to attempt to form a truly representative stakeholder group of private citizens, treatment plant dischargers, agricultural interests, recreational interests, and communities contributing runoff.

Through funding and contributions of time and services by the municipal members and interested consultants of a separate inter-municipal committee a number of tasks were completed. The tasks included the development of a model of the entire 3,700 square mile watershed, a stream, the development of trading issues and approaches, an evaluation of POTW treatment costs for use in comparison to non-point removal and an assessment of the biological, in-stream impact of POTW discharges on the Rock River. The estimated total cost of the program, including contributed, grant funded, and in kind services is approximately 700,000.

This paper will discuss the initial formation of the Partnership, current plans and objectives of the Partnership, and the status of the major tasks. The paper will be of special interest to all who wish to consider a watershed based approach to achieving water quality and especially to those considering formation of a watershed partnership.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2000-01-01

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