The Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) program has updated the public interface of its online database of open and closed cleanup sites with new functions and a style that matches the DNR’s redesigned website.
BRRTS On The Web (BOTW) is our searchable, public database that allows users to find information about the investigation and cleanup of environmental contamination in Wisconsin.
Continue reading “RR Program’s Contaminated Sites Database Viewer Updated”
Karen Dettmer has been named to head up the Milwaukee Water Works. The Milwaukee Common Council’s Public Works Committee unanimously approved the appointment during its January 23, 2018 meeting.
Dettmer, a licensed engineer who’s held various positions with the City of Milwaukee, has been a formal member of the Wisconsin Brownfields Study Group since May 2015.
Most recently, Dettmer was the public works coordination manager for Milwaukee’s Dept. of Public Works. Before that, she spent several years with the Redevelopment Authority of the City of Milwaukee.
The Wisconsin DNR’s final report summarizing efforts and accomplishments funded by a US EPA Section 128(a) Grant is now complete and available online.
The report, prepared by the Remediation and Redevelopment (RR) program’s Brownfields and Outreach section, highlights the work and major accomplishments that program staff and partners achieved during the September 1, 2017 to August 31, 2018 grant year.
Previous reports, including the recent mid-year update on 128(a) funded efforts, are also available on the RR program’s website.
“Our staff put a lot of time and effort into working on brownfields cleanup and redevelopment projects and policies throughout the year. We’re proud to present this comprehensive report on those efforts and we’re grateful to the US EPA for providing funds to help us with those projects,” said Christine Haag, Brownfields and Outreach section chief.
2018 marks the anniversaries of two things that shape and guide the Wisconsin DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Program: the Spill Law (Wis. Admin. Code Ch. 292) and the Brownfields Study Group. It’s the 40th anniversary of “292,” while the Study Group celebrates 20 years.
Both are highlighted in this article in the current edition of the DNR’s Wisconsin Natural Resources magazine.
Many of our RR Report readers have played a role in helping to shape Wisconsin’s brownfields policies, and have done the work to clean up and redevelop brownfield sites. The DNR recognizes your efforts, appreciates the partnerships, and looks forward to another successful 40 years.
The Wisconsin Brownfields Study Group will meet on September 28, 2018 in Madison. The meeting will be held at the Dane County UW-Extension building from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. An agenda for the meeting is posted on the group’s web page.
The Study Group meeting is open to the public; no RSVP is necessary.
The Study Group celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018. It was created by the State Legislature to help the DNR develop solutions and strategies to increase the number of contaminated properties that were cleaned up and returned to productive use. The group meets a few times a year and has members from the private sector, local governments, non-profits and others.
If you have questions about this meeting or the Study Group, please contact Mick Skwarok, (608) 266-9263.
Created in the state budget as a one-year project to help the governor, legislators and state agencies further understand the unique challenges of taking on the cleanup and redevelopment of contaminated properties, the Wisconsin Brownfields Study Group now celebrates 20 years as a state and national model for stakeholder involvement.
The group is comprised of local government officials, academia and representatives from the private sector, and is facilitated by Department of Natural Resources staff.
Continue reading “Brownfields Study Group Celebrates 20 Years”
Financing can make or break a redevelopment project; however, lenders are often wary of the environmental liabilities associated with brownfields redevelopments. In order to encourage lenders to finance these projects, Wisconsin state law exempts lenders from environmental liabilities for a range of lending activities, if they meet certain statutory conditions.
In its 2015 report, Investing in Wisconsin, the Brownfields Study Group (BSG) recognized that Wisconsin’s liability exemption for lenders had recently turned 20 years old, and noted that the lending industry had evolved significantly over those two decades. The BSG recommended that a subset of the group meet with stakeholders to examine whether the exemption remains useful and relevant in light of current lending practices and regulations.
Between May 2016 and April 2017, a group of Wisconsin DNR personnel, lenders, attorneys, and trade organizations met five times to discuss, in a public forum, the various components of the state’s lender liability exemption and analyze whether the current exemption meets the needs of lenders and the public. In April 2017, this group of professionals formed a list of recommendations for the BSG, which will consider the proposed items at an upcoming public meeting.
During this effort, the Wisconsin DNR renewed its outreach efforts and strengthened partnerships with the lending community. The Wisconsin DNR reviewed its lender factsheets and updated and republished several guidance documents. The Wisconsin Bankers Association helped the Wisconsin DNR reach the WBA members by authoring informational articles in its membership publications and by distributing Wisconsin DNR’s guidance at its compliance forums, and including information in teaching materials for its compliance courses. Wisconsin DNR staff continue to reach out to bankers and lenders at statewide conferences and via Green Team meetings.
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.
Continue reading “External Advisory Groups Help Guide, Shape DNR Policy”
Last November, the Governor signed 2017 Act 70, which modified Wis. Stat. ch. 292 (Wisconsin’s “Spill Law”) to help encourage brownfield cleanup and redevelopment. The Act was based on recommendations made by the Brownfields Study Group in its 2015 report, Investing in Wisconsin.
Modifications to the Spill Law include:
- Clarification that the off-site liability exemption applies if there is vapor intrusion impacting an off-site property (Wis. Stat. § 292.13(1m))
- Changing the definition of “property” as it is used for Voluntary Party Liability Exemption (VPLE). The new definition is “…an area of real property that is included in an application to obtain an exemption under this section, made up of a legally identifiable parcel or legally identifiable contiguous parcels created in compliance with applicable laws.” (Wis. Stat. § 292.15(1)(c))
- Specifying the process for changing the footprint for the VPLE “property” after an application has been submitted if the “property” is subdivided, combined with other properties or otherwise changed. (Wis. Stat. § 292.15(2)(at))
The DNR’s Remediation and Redevelopment Program’s role with brownfields redevelopment is not directly affected by many of the other provisions in the Act, such as changes to tax incremental districts (TID) requirements for environmental remediation; expansion of the property-assessed clean energy (PACE) financing option to include brownfield revitalization projects; expanded options to address tax delinquent brownfields and other provisions.
Program staff will make necessary changes to VPLE documents and webpages and work with the program’s Land Recycling Team to identify other actions needed to implement the changes.
More information on the bill, including descriptions of the provisions in the Act, can be found in Senate Bill 173.
The Brownfields Study Group will meet on September 15 in West Bend. This group was created roughly 20 years ago at the behest of the Legislature to help the DNR develop solutions and strategies to increase the number of contaminated properties that were cleaned up and returned to productive use. The group meets regularly and has members from the private sector, local governments, non-profits and others.
For an agenda and other meeting details, please contact Mick Skwarok, (608) 266-9263.