Wisconsin Lakes

We Speak for Lakes

WI Lakes

Hearings on lakes dredging permit this week!

Hearings in Madison on Tue, Feb 14 and in Green Bay on Thr, Feb 16.
Written comments due March 3.

By Wisconsin Lakes staff

Picture of dredgingConsiderable concern has been raised among lakefront property owners regarding the negative impact of the ease of obtaining authorization to dredge near the shore under a proposed general permit being considered by the Department of Natural Resources (DNR). General permits do not require the same level of scrutiny or notice as individual permits. Dredging is currently allowed in the areas this general permit covers, but only by obtaining an individual permit. Wisconsin Lakes’ position is that the individual permit process is not so onerous to need to be abandoned, especially given the potential harm that dredging can cause a lake when done poorly.

The permit would allow up to 25 cubic yards to be dredged from an inland lake over a five year period (100 cubic yards from the Great Lakes), but any amount dredged raises a concern.

Here are some of our principal objections to this permit:

  • By switching from an individual permit to a general permit, the benefit of site review by a trained DNR staff person is lost. This makes it much more unlikely that special and unique conditions will be recognized, or in some cases reported, by the property owner seeking the permit.
  • The permit requires no more than a copy be posted on a conspicuous location on the property five days before the project begins. This is virtually no notice at all. Truly sufficient notice not only provides some fair warning of the impending activity to neighbors and other riparians, but it also allows others to weigh in on whether there might be less obvious impacts from the project, and gives the local lake organization or others a better handle of what sorts of dredging activity might be going on on the lake at a give time – an important point when crafting some lake management plans and implementing those plans from year to year.
  • The permit contains no requirement for the entity doing the work to be qualified or knowledgeable in best practices for dredging. While it does require some specific practices (and it could be even more specific), it does not require proof that the landowners or their contractors are familiar with those practices. If a general permit is to be used, contractor certification or demonstration of knowledge should be required.
  • Not having the permit looked at up front makes enforcement during and upon completion all the more important. With declining DNR staffing, that becomes more and more unlikely, and thus the potential of serious problems on some lakes increases.
  • This idea was already put forth as legislation in early 2016 and it was not enacted because of overwhelming opposition from lakefront property owners – the very group it was supposed to benefit. So why are we now doing this at the agency level anyway?

If you choose to comment against this proposal, either at one of the hearings or in writing, we encourage you to personalize your comments by telling the department how a dredging issue could impact you in a negative way. Be concise, respectful, and on topic while firmly expressing your point of view will carry your message most effectively.

If you would like to get involved on this issue, here’s how:

DNR’s announcement and a link to the permit proposal can be found here.

The Department is holding two hearings thisweek to provide more information on the permit and to take comments from the public. The hearings are:

TUE, FEBRUARY 14, 2017 ~ 1:00PM
DNR GEF 2 building, Room G09
101 S. Webster Street, Madison

THR, FEBRUARY 16, 2017 ~ 1:00PM
DNR Service Center
2984 Shawano Ave., Green Bay

Written comments will also be accepted until March 3, 2017 by email to , or by standard mail to:

Waterway Policy Coordinator
Bureau of Watershed Management, DNR-WT/3
PO Box 7921
Madison WI 53707-7921