Yahara WINS Home Q: What is Adaptive Management?
  MMSD is pioneering a new regulatory approach to address phosphorus, called “watershed adaptive management”. Excessive levels of phosphorus can impact the quality of Wisconsin’s lakes and streams. Regulatory approaches to address phosphorus have traditionally focused on controlling phosphorus from point sources, which include wastewater treatment plants and municipal stormwater control facilities.

That is too narrow of a focus, because in most watersheds, the majority of phosphorus reaching lakes and streams comes from non-point sources, which include runoff from agricultural fields, construction sites, and urban areas. 

Usually, each source of phosphorus has independently put phosphorus control practices in place. Resulting approaches tend to be expensive, resource intensive, and discharge focused. In addition, independent actions result in missed opportunities to make meaningful improvements in water quality throughout the watershed. 

In adaptive management, all sources of phosphorus work collaboratively to implement cost effective phosphorus control practices throughout the watershed. Control practices will vary, and will likely involve a mix of agricultural and urban best management practices (BMPs).

MMSD and Dane County, with multiple partners (villages, towns, cities, DNR, environmental organizations and farm producers) are implementing an adaptive management pilot project in the Yahara Watershed. It is anticipated that the pilot project will lead to implementation of a full scale adaptive management project beginning in 2016.

Q: What is the pilot project?
The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR or the department) has developed numeric water quality criteria for phosphorus. These criteria
were used as the basis for developing a total maximum daily load (TMDL) for the Rock River Basin.  A TMDL establishes the maximum amount of a
pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards. The Rock River Basin TMDL was approved by EPA in September, 2011. The TMDL requires phosphorus reductions from all sources of phosphorus, including municipal/industrial wastewater treatment plants, municipal stormwater discharges, and agricultural sources.

Q: Who's participating in the pilot project?
 To view the group which is working together to test a new, innovative, and collaborative approach called watershed adaptive management designed to meet regulatory requirements in a cost-effective manner and improve water quality in our rivers, streams and lakes view our Contacts Page.

Watershed Adaptive Management Pilot Project Quick Facts
Have more questions?  Contact Us
Back to FAQ