2015 SOC Annual Report

In 2015, the Standards Oversight Council (SOC) supported the development and revision of 18 technical standards, with the DNR 1005 Vegetated Swale standard scheduled for completion in mid-2016. Significantly, the NRCS 590 Nutrient Management standard was completed and was adopted by NRCS. SOC continued to increase visibility and improve public understanding of the council’s purpose through the release of a video describing the objectives and benefits of the council. With an improved method for surveying users about needed technical standards, we received feedback that will help prioritize how and which standards will be created or revised in 2016 and 2017. Partnerships between SOC, WisDOT and US Army Corps of Engineers were also strengthened, bringing new insights from these agencies to the development of technical standards.

Agricultural Standards
The NRCS 590 Nutrient Management standard was completed in the fall, and the final draft was approved by NRCS in December 2015. Two years of work yielded a carefully crafted standard that balanced the interests of farmers, consultants, and government agencies, while making significant progress in addressing winter spreading risks, groundwater protection, and improved management of nitrogen. The SOC team employed a systematic approach to securing public input and revising the draft standard to reflect the concerns of users. Extensive review began by addressing comments from initial reviewers in fall 2014 and concluded with two broad reviews in 2015. Thirty-eight individuals commented, and the team met almost monthly until fall to ensure comments from all review periods were addressed appropriately.

In early 2015, a SOC team reviewed the NRCS 393 Filter Strip standard, addressing several comments received through broad review. Multiple reviewers requested clarification regarding the standard’s purpose and applicability, and reviewers received responses directly from SOC. Several technicians were involved in drafting the revisions and championed the concept of harvestable buffers. This and other changes were incorporated into the standard published by NRCS in August.

Additional standards were updated through minor and EZ processes; see the back of this document for a complete list.

Urban Stormwater Standards
This year, two closely related DNR standards underwent revision and received new titles along the way: 1050 Land Application of Additives for Erosion Control and 1051 Water Application of Additives for Sediment Control. Revisions incorporated the April 2015 DNR “Water Quality Review Procedures for Additives” guidance. Additionally, the standards were broadened to use the term “additive” instead of the more specific terms of anionic polyacrylamide or polymers, making the standards more inclusive. The revised draft was opened for broad review in October and the final documents submitted in December. Following up on its 2014 commitment, SOC coordinated the first annual check-in for DNR’s new 1008 Permeable Pavement standard. The team met in December to discuss preliminary results from local research on permeable pavements, which aligned well with information included in the technical standard. The team will meet again in mid-2016 to evaluate research results and provide minor updates to the standard as appropriate. Finally, a team was formed in April to create a new Vegetated Swale standard (DNR 1005). This team’s objectives are to address the design and use of vegetated swales for removal of Total Suspended Solids in stormwater runoff. This draft standard was submitted for initial review in December, and the final draft will be completed in early 2016. Outreach and Collaboration SOC released a video describing the program’s role in and impact on Wisconsin conservation. It highlights the need for and benefit of uniform technical standards, as well as their development process. It will be used to engage new audiences who are unfamiliar with the role of technical standards in environmental programs; build commitment from agency supporters, the private sector, and industry; and encourage increased participation in the SOC process. You can find it on the SOC website or on YouTube by searching for Standards Oversight Council. We surveyed users of technical standards to determine where improvements were needed and received feedback from 245 individuals, over four times the number of responses we received in the prior survey. A streamlined survey delivered online was key to increasing participation. SOC shared comments received via the survey with the custodian agencies for consideration when revising standards, and used results to develop the 2016-2017 Work Plan. Collaboration between SOC and WisDOT grew to new levels this year through the joint understanding of the importance of protecting the quality of Wisconsin’s surface and ground water. By participating as a cooperating agency, WisDOT is able to provide perspective on addressing the unique needs of highway projects while still protecting water resources and meeting regulatory requirements. The SOC Program Manager continued to bring information about the technical standards revision process to county conservationists, governmental agencies, and conservation staff through in-person presentations and webinars.

Looking Forward to 2016
SOC will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2016! A special presentation at Wisconsin Land+Water’s Annual Conference will highlight the development of SOC and the value of this program to statewide conservation. We will complete the DNR 1005 Vegetated Swale standard and begin revising DNR 1002 Site  Evaluation for Infiltration standard. We also look forward to working with Wisconsin DOT and Army Corps of Engineers in a greater capacity this coming year.


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