State D-N-R Secretary Cathy Stepp defends her agency’s efforts to enforce water pollution rules, and says her agency is addressing longtime problems after a critical audit came out last June. The Joint Audit Committee heard testimony on Tuesday about a drop in the D-N-R’s enforcement of sewage violations since 2005, continuing into the Walker administration. Stepp put much of the blame on a state hiring freeze and deep personnel cuts — while environmentalists and Democrats said the agency should have been more aggressive in asking lawmakers to approve more workers. Stepp told the panel it plans to make regular checks of wastewater facilities, add staffers to review large farming operations, and reduce backlogs in requests for wastewater permits. Senate G-O-P panel chair Rob Cowles (coles) says he wants an update from the D-N-R in three months.