Bristol to be honored for water protection efforts

A new state program is honoring Bristol Monday as the first Kenosha County municipality to receive its recognition for exemplary water protection efforts.

The program, Water Star, honors cities, villages, towns and counties that have taken important steps to protect surface water and groundwater, such as strengthening stormwater controls, ensuring water quality, protecting habitats and encouraging residents to conserve water.

The Department of Administration, Coastal Management Program sponsored the workshop in which Bristol completed its application and awards for Bristol as part of the Governor’s Coastal Awareness Month.

Water Star Program sponsors include the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Cooperative Extension, MSA Professional Services, Town and County RC&D, Rock River Coalition, UW-Extension Environmental Resources Center, Dane County, Natural Resources Consulting Inc., Wisconsin Public Service Commission and Ruekert-Mielke.

“Too often we complain about what isn’t being done instead of celebrating the positive steps municipalities are taking,” said Suzanne Wade, a University of Wisconsin-Extension basin educator and Water Star coordinator. “I’m amazed at the local wisdom that these municipal staff and elected officials have used in solving problems. Water Star is one way for them to share their good work.”

Water Star participants have welcomed the opportunity to participate in a program that recognizes their municipalities’ conservation efforts and helps them identify improved ways of protecting water resources.

The program has unveiled a wide range of successful municipal efforts being used to protect water resources including efforts in Bristol to prevent pollutants from sullying lakes and streams.

Bristol uses conservative fertilizing practices, closely tracks manufacturing and industry discharges, and requires all newly built parking lots to include features that capture and filter pollutants from runoff. Bristol’s keen attention to activities impacting the quality of water draining into surface waters, protects its many streams and lakes including the Des Plains River, Dutch Gap Canal, George Lake and Mud Lake

With respect to fertilizing practices, only village properties that need fertilizer receive it and only in the portions necessary. Whenever turf areas needing fertilizer are identified, no fertilization takes place until municipal soil samples determine the appropriate amount of fertilizer needed to raise nutrients to optimum levels and no more.

And with respect to manufacturing and industrial discharges, Bristol uses monitoring to ensure adequate removal of pollutants. It also works closely with local manufacturers producing rubber, circuit boards, processed foods and other products, to ensure they have the technical information on practices needed to keep discharges clean and surface waters clear.

Finally, Bristol also protects its surface waters by making sure all newly built parking lots have swales or other mechanisms to capture parking lot runoff. Mechanisms capturing runoff from parking lots allows soils to filter automobile contaminants, deicers and other paved surface pollutants from runoff, before they drain into lakes and streams.

In recognition of Bristol’s achievements, the Water Star Program will award the village as a Bronze Water Star Community in a ceremony held during the Village’s Board meeting at 7 p.m. Monday.

Water Star determines how well municipalities meet the program’s standards for water resource protections and designates participants as gold, silver or bronze star communities. Early evidence demonstrates that Wisconsin municipalities have the capacity to achieve high conservation and protection goals.

Representatives from municipalities, the DNR, the University of Wisconsin-Extension and other organizations said they hoped that when the program begins to show how Wisconsin municipalities stack up, Water Star-designated municipalities will inspire other municipalities to set loftier goals.

Jim Congdon, Upper Rock Watershed Department of Natural Resources supervisor, said opportunities for optimizing water resource protections include taking steps that go beyond DNR regulations.

Municipalities that have so far qualified as Water Star communities include four gold star communities—Grafton, Fitchburg, Dane County and River Falls; three silver star communities—Beloit, Mukwonago and Waukesha County; and seven bronze star communities—Stevens Point, Darlington, Manitowoc, Whitewater, Ashland, Bristol and Brown Deer.

Municipalities interested in becoming part of the Water Star Program can apply online at


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