There are many programs to protect surface waters in the Greater Madison Region.  As part of the water quality plan, urban service areas include environmental corridors. Federal, state and local county policies also contribute to protecting surface water.

Photo By: Mike Kakuska

Environmental Corridors

These are designated to protect resources that provide important environmental functions, such as streams, wetlands, floodplains, and steep slopes bordering water bodies. Once defined within an urban service area, these areas are protected from development. These corridor systems are primarily associated with stream valleys and water features, emphasizing the importance of continuity of environmental systems and protection of the land/water edge.

Permits for Dredging and Filling Wetlands

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers implements a permit program for altering wetlands. A permit is required for activities that would dredge or fill aquatic resources.  The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources also participates in issuing permits for disturbing wetland.

Water Quality Standards

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sets standards to protect water bodies from excess pollution and to maintain  quality of water resources.


Dane County issues permits relating to shoreland, wetlands and floodplain zoning.

Dane County Wetlands Resource Management Guide (2008)

This guide is intended to support and encourage landowner and community-based wetland improvement projects. The information, strategies, and activities provide the overall framework and various options for land acquisition, conservation easements, cooperative agreements, and management projects by individuals and groups in the community. Everyone brings their own set of skills, resources, and support base. The guide is meant to reflect how you or your organization can participate and cooperate in the efforts needed to reverse the loss of wetlands in Dane County, promote water quality improvements in its surface waters, and reduce damages and costs associated with flooding, erosion, and loss of habitat and wildlife.

Urban Nonpoint Source Analysis (2011)

This in-depth analysis of urban nonpoint source pollution issues and management practices in our region includes references for best management practices (BMPs). It summarizes relevant existing federal, state, and local regulations, available models, and current monitoring of urban nonpoint source pollution in the region. Management considerations and recommendations are also discussed.

Analysis Recommendations
  1. CARPC should collaborate with management agencies to develop watershed level plans that assess the resources in the watershed, identify the range of potential opportunities for protecting and enhancing the resources, and set goals for improvement. Priority should be given to sensitive (i.e., Badger Mill Creek, Black Earth Creek, Token Creek and Sugar River) watersheds and/or currently impaired watersheds
  2. Management agencies should encourage stormwater management systems that emphasize low impact development and green infrastructure
  3. Management agencies should continue to cooperate in sponsoring field tests of the feasibility and effectiveness of innovative stormwater management ideas and technologies
  4. Management agencies should continue to evaluate and promote potential approaches for improving sediment and phosphorus removal in the design, operation, and maintenance of stormwater management systems
  5. Management agencies should continue to encourage stormwater management systems that minimize the potential for nutrients or toxic materials being washed or discharged into surface waters, with an emphasis on source control
  6. Municipalities should continue to conduct street sweeping with regenerative-air or vacuum-assist sweepers for the control of litter and floatables, particularly in early spring and late autumn
  7. Management agencies should continue to conduct public education and information programs regarding pollution prevention and source control on an annual basis
  8. Management agencies should collaboratively prepare a chloride management plan for the region which continues to expand efforts to reduce ground and surface water impacts associated with salt use, including identifying alternative materials and approaches
  9. Dane County and all municipalities should adopt the climate change adaption recommendations of the WICCI Stormwater Working Group, particularly they should update their stormwater ordinances to incorporate more current official rainfall data as it becomes available. CARPC should collaborate with other management agencies to prepare a technical paper to examine the issue of climate change as it relates to our region
  10. Dane County and all municipalities should update their stormwater ordinances to include at a minimum, a performance standard of maintaining pre-development peak runoff rates for the 1-, 2-, 10-, and 100-year 24-hours design storms
  11. Dane County and all municipalities should update their stormwater ordinances to include at a minimum, a performance standard of maintaining 90% of the pre-development stay-on volume on an average annual basis for all land uses
  12. Dane County and all municipalities should update their stormwater ordinances to include a performance standard of maintaining pre-development groundwater recharge rates based on the rates in the Wisconsin Geological and Natural History Survey’s 2009 report, Groundwater Recharge in Dane County, Wisconsin, Estimated by a GIS Based Water-Balance Model or future updates, or by a site specific analysis
  13. Management agencies should put into practice adaptive management strategies that include monitoring of the resources, monitoring of the maintenance and performance of the BMPs, and implementation of corrective actions as needed
  14. CARPC should collaborate with the Dane County Lakes and Watershed Commission to undertake a legal and institutional analysis of workable approaches to BMP monitoring and enforcement
  15. CARPC should collaborate with other management agencies to ensure that these research needs identified by the Commission’s Technical Advisory Committee, for the future evaluation of the volume control issue, are carried out in a timely manner
  16. Management agencies should continue to promote inter-agency review to streamline permitting while ensuring protection of the natural resources
  17. Urban management agencies should enact and enforce leaf, yard, and garden debris storage and disposal ordinances in urban areas, including leaf pick-up in the fall, with emphasis on keeping leaves and yard waste off of streets and paved surfaces
  18. Urban management agencies should include provisions in building codes and ordinances to require that, wherever feasible, drainage from roofs, driveways, and parking lots be directed toward grassed or vegetated areas, rather than paved areas or storm sewers
  19. Designated municipalities should implement the state NR 216, NR 151, and federal Phase II stormwater regulations along with the existing Erosion Control and Stormwater Management Ordinance. Other municipalities should consider developing consistent programs, ordinances, and requirements
  20. A coordinated stormwater management plan should be developed for all communities in the municipal NR 216 stormwater permit area
  21. Management agencies should apply for grant funding to develop stormwater management plans and install best management practices that control urban stormwater impacts


Wetlands by Design

This online mapping tool helps identify wetlands sites to restore and protect. Prospective sites are compared through potential ecosystem services (e.g. water quality, habitat, reducing flood impacts) provided by a restored wetland. This tool comparatively ranks sites within a specific watershed.