Wisconsin has several statutes that promote water conservation and controlled water use, and this legislation establishes mandatory and voluntary programs in water conservation and water use efficiency. The mandatory program applies to new and increased large withdrawals of water in the Great Lakes Basin, new and increased diversions of Great Lakes water, and persons applying for an approval for a water loss that averages more than 2 million gallons per day (anywhere in the state).
Proposed water withdrawals and diversions are categorized into one of three tiers. New and increased water withdrawers in the Great Lakes Basin applying for coverage under a General Water Use Permit or an Individual Water Use Permit are in Tiers 1 and 2, respectively, while new or increased diversions of Great Lakes water and new or increased water withdrawals statewide that result in a water loss of more than 2 million gallons per day averaged over 30 days comprise Tier 3. Proposals in each tier must develop a water conservation plan and implement four prescribed basic Conservation and Efficiency Measures (CEMs); proposals in Tiers 2 and 3 must, in addition, implement four intermediate CEMs or choose their own CEMs to reduce water use or increase efficiency by 10 percent; and proposals in Tier 3 must also identify and implement all available CEMs that are cost effective or environmentally sound and economically feasible. The four basic Tier 1 CEMs are conducting a water audit, developing a leak detection and repair program, educating staff and customers about water conservation activities, and measuring all sources of water.