External Advisory Groups Help Guide, Shape DNR Policy

The Remediation and Redevelopment Program puts to good use the skills and knowledge of its customers by working together in a collaborative manner through a number of External Advisory Groups (EAG). In fact, it’s one of the core values of the agency. And with funding from the US EPA’s 128(a) grant, the Brownfields and Outreach Section assists these groups with messaging and keeping customers and the public informed.

Now in its 20th year of advising the agency is the Brownfields Study Group (BSG). The study group is one of the oldest EAGs, created in 1998 at the direction of the Governor and State Legislature to evaluate Wisconsin’s brownfields initiatives and recommend improvements, as well as propose additional incentives for brownfields redevelopment. The BSG continues to drive important brownfields policy changes in Wisconsin and among its successes can count the creation of the Site Assessment Grant Program, which awarded more than $18 million to more than 200 communities before it was transferred to a different agency. The group was also instrumental in developing the One Cleanup Program Agreement with Region 5 EPA, the most comprehensive agreement of its kind, which helps expedite cleanups of properties across the state.

As part of the Study Group’s 2015 report, Investing in Wisconsin: Reducing Risk, Maximizing Return, members recommended creating two additional EAGs to study emerging issues surrounding contaminated sediment and contaminated materials.

In an effort to develop a unified approach to address issues associated with the investigation, management and remediation of contaminated sediments in waters of the state, the Wisconsin DNR works with the Contaminated Sediments EAG to solicit feedback to improve how the agency and customers collectively work together on sediment issues. The purpose of the sediment group is to provide constructive feedback to the Wisconsin DNR on topics associated with the management of contaminated sediments from dredging projects, environmental cleanups, redevelopments and other construction projects.

The Wisconsin DNR has also appointed the Contaminated Materials Management EAG in an effort to provide feedback on management of contaminated soil and other solid waste associated with environmental cleanups, redevelopments and other construction projects. There is significant collaboration between the Contaminated Materials and Contaminated Sediments EAGs on issues relating to dredging, soil management, and disposal.

The Petroleum Environmental Cleanup Fund Award (PECFA) Focus Group is another external group whose members are lending perspective and experience to the RR Program. This comes as the PECFA program winds down and is scheduled to end on June 30, 2020. The group helps Brownfields and Outreach staff make sure that plans for communicating details about the “PECFA sunset” are reaching the right audiences and are being seen by the right people. The group, which consists of environmental consultants, PECFA agents, and petroleum industry personnel, also advises the RR Program on policy or program changes that could affect the closure of as many sites as possible by the end of the reimbursement program.

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