Our local governments are putting in the work too. By law, each has to budget for and follow through on systematic investments and actions to manage stormwater. This work is incredibly important, and we can be proud that the La Crosse area is more proactive than most. It is hard work to maintain hundreds of miles of ditches and pipes. It is hard work to clean up thousands of tons of debris from the street. And it is hard work to ensure all new construction minimise runoff, instead of adding to it. Here are just a few of the different things our local cities, towns and villages do to manage stormwater runoff.
MILLIONS OF POUNDS of sand, leaves and trash are removed from La Crosse County roads every year.
Street sweeping keeps MILLIONS OF POUNDS of sand, leaves and trash from flowing into our streams and rivers.
In 2017, the City of Onalaska swept up 639 tons of debris and 200 tons of leaves from city streets. That is ONE MILLION SIX HUNDRED AND SEVENTY EIGHT THOUSAND POUNDS of sand, leaves and trash the City of Onalaska kept out of our local waters.
Shown in the photo, a Street Department employee with the City of La Crosse, sweeps the streets to remove debris. Each spring, both 1st and 3rd shifts begin clearing winter sand and debris from the streets as soon as the weather permits. The ENTIRE City of La Crosse is swept approximately once every two weeks.
Reduce Runoff on Government Properties
All types of properties are assessed a Stormwater Utility Fee. This includes, homes, vacant land, farms, businesses, non-profits AND government properties.
The Town of Holland designed and installed a rain garden on their property. This rain garden captures runoff flowing down McHugh Road towards HWY XX.
Develop Stormwater Treatment Areas
The Village of West Salem completed a HUGE stormwater project in 2017. After developer Jerry King constructed a 16-unit apartment building, on a property adjacent to Neshonoc Road, he donated the remaining two acres to the Village of West Salem for stormwater management. The new storm water area treats water not only from Mr. King’s development, but also from the Lakeview Business Park. Because of this incredible donation, West Salem was able to complete an impressive project, that greatly reduced the area’s stormwater runoff.
Clean Up Illicit Spills and Discharges
Illicit discharges happen too often in La Crosse County. People either assume the stormwater gets treated before it moves into our streams and rivers, or they just don’t care.
The following pictures are from an illicit discharge after Thanksgiving one year. Oil was found at outfall on Mormon Coulee Road that discharges into Pammel Creek. After testing the water, the oil found was not a petroleum based oil (trains, cars), but more organic based (cooking). This spill was most likely caused by someone dumping used oil from a turkey fryer down a storm drain. A careless, purposeful spill like this involved many costly man hours from the City of La Crosse Fire Department and Utilities Department, as well as the WI DNR. Sadly, there is no way to know who actually put this oil down the storm drain. If you ever see anything suspicious coming from the storm drains, report it immediately. The sooner the Stormwater Utility is made aware of these situations, the better chance they have of backtracking to the source.
The first two pictures are of an outfall off of Mormon Coulee Road at Pammel Creek, on the Southside of La Crosse. The second two pictures show how the grease then moved along Pammel Creek toward Nottingham Street.