The federal Water Pollution Control Act Amendments of 1972 required states to develop comprehensive areawide water quality management plans addressing the full range of water quality problems. In accordance with the federal directives, the state established a continuing areawide water quality management planning process. This process is described and guided by state Administrative Rule NR 121. These plans seek to systematically evaluate how to reach state and federal water pollution control goals. They identify the best management practices needed to protect groundwater and surface water from the adverse impacts of urbanization and other land uses.
These plans must assess existing and potential water quality problems within the planning area. Requirements for a water quality plan (WQP) include:
- Address both point and nonpoint pollution sources.
- Point sources include facilities such as wastewater treatment plants and other processing facilities that discharge water with contaminants
- Nonpoint sources are pollutants from a landscape scale, such as runoff from an agricultural field
- The plan includes an inventory of municipal and industrial pollutant sources
- Include data on current and forecasted demographic, economic, and land use changes. Projected trends are used to assess potential pollutant sources
- Discuss applicable water quality standards, total maximum daily loads (TMDL), waste load allocations, treatment of industrial and nonindustrial wastewater, and nonpoint source control needs.
These management plans typically address a 20 year timespan and are updated on a 5 year basis.
CARPC conducts water quality management planning, including the administration of Water Quality Management Plan amendments in Dane County under a contractual agreement with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.