Have you ever been driving around during a rainfall and noticed soil eroding off a construction site, or an oily sheen on the water running into a storm sewer inlet and wondered what affect it may have on the environment? Chances are, given our increasingly busy lives, most of us do not pay much attention to these and other storm water pollution events. The City of Wausau hopes to change that and make everyone more aware of storm water pollution and the affects it has on our lakes, streams, and ground water.

To meet the requirements of the federal Clean Water Act, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources developed the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Storm Water Discharge Permit Program (WPDES) which is regulated under the authority of NR 216 (Wis. Adm. Code). As part of the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NDPES), the State’s program regulates discharge of storm water in Wisconsin from construction sites, industrial facilities, and selected municipalities including Wausau.

Recently, the City received a Phase II storm water discharge permit from the WisDNR which allows the City to continue to discharge storm water to lakes and streams provided the City meets the specific requirements of the discharge permit. The permit requires the City to implement the following:

  • Public Outreach and Education
  • Public Involvement and Participation
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Construction Site Pollution Control
  • Post Construction Storm Water Management
  • Pollution Prevention
  • Storm Water Quality Management
  • Storm Sewer Mapping and Annual Reporting

Each of these permit conditions has specific requirements and time lines for compliance. These specifics can be viewed at the WDNR website or a copy can be obtained at the Engineering Department.

Through a cooperative agreement with Marathon County and surrounding municipalities, a Public Outreach and Education Plan is currently being developed. The primary goal of the plan is to reach out to the community and raise awareness for storm water pollution.

Implementing all the requirements of the Phase II storm water permit will require both an investment in time and money by the City and its residents, with the end result being permit compliance and cleaner lakes, streams and groundwater.

What can residents do to prevent storm water pollution?

  • Don’t put anything in storm drains but rainwater.
  • Avoid throwing litter into the street.
  • Pick up after your pet.
  • Recycle your motor oil.
  • Compost or recycle grass, tree limbs, leaves and other yard waste.
  • Use yard waste as mulch, as natural fertilizer, or as ground cover.
  • Don’t use harsh, abrasive or toxic chemicals around the house.
  • Recycle your grass–use a mulching mower.
  • Be smart when you apply pesticides or fertilizers.

Are sewers and storm drains the same thing?
No, they are not the same thing. The two systems are totally separate from each other. A sanitary sewer system collects waste from your sinks, toilets, showers, and washing machines. The sewer system will then carry it to a treatment facility before being discharged.

Storm water is collected from our streets and then flows into a storm sewer system. Water entering this system goes untreated and flows into local waterways, carrying all collected pollution with it.

Can any products be safely poured down the storm drains?
No! The only thing that should enter the storm drains is rainwater.


Stormwater Management Permit Application and Fees

Stormwater Management and Maintenance Agreement

MS4 General Permit Annual Report 2008-09

MS4 General Permit Annual Report 2009-10

MS4 General Permit Annual Report 2010-11

MS4 General Permit Annual Report 2011-12

MS4 General Permit Annual Report 2012-13

MS4 General Permit Annual Report 2013-14 

MS4 General Permit Annual Report 2014-2015

MS4 General Permit Annual Report 2015-2016

MS4 General Permit Annual Report 2016-2017


Chapter 15.56, Storm Water Management, of the Wausau Municipal Code (adopted February 10, 2009)

Chapter 15.60, Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Requirements (adopted February 24, 2009)