Soak it Up! Award 2019

Congratulations to the finalists of the 2019 Soak it Up! Award

Gordy & Barb Roberts and Roush Rentals, Waterview Apartments

2019 marks year two for the La Crosse Urban Stormwater Group’s Soak it Up! Award. This award is all about action. Honoring citizens who have landscaped with water in mind. The Roberts Family and Roush Rentals have done just that. They put in the work to create sustainable, water-friendly properties. Because of them, less runoff pollution is flowing into our rivers. Thank you to both our finalists.

Gordy & Barb Roberts

W5576 Southdale Drive, La Crosse


In order for the Roberts to obtain a building permit for a garage addition, they were required to take preventative runoff measures by the County. Adding a garage would add to the properties hard surface, thus increasing runoff to Pammel Creek, which directly borders their lot.

Through a local engineer and landscaper, the Roberts were able to direct the flow of water to a large, 10’x20’ rain garden in their backyard. “It is nicely done and it is pleasing to the eye,” said Barb Roberts “The garden blends into our landscape well and so far this summer, it has been very effective.”

The Robert’s rain garden includes an engineered mix of sand, topsoil and mulch. Plants include grasses, and various perennial flowers such as astilbe, veronica, pulmonaria, snakeroot, and iris.

“It is amazing to see our runoff drain into the rain garden space and fill it during a hard rain. Then within 12 hours that pool of water goes down, cleansed by the earth. The pooled water has never come close to the creek.”

Roush Rentals, Waterview Apartments

3850 Sunnyside Drive, La Crosse



The needs at Waterview Apartments were very important because any runoff from the property flows directly into the Mississippi River. The intent, from the start, was to meet and exceed the current requirements to adequately reduce the amount of suspended solids and clean up the runoff before it even makes its way to the river. The Waterview Apartments includes berms, swales and dozens of rain gardens filled with hundreds of native plants that attract pollinators and will tolerate the inevitable use of winter salt.

Another really cool aspect of this project is the use of cardboard from Smith’s Bike Shop, that was used for weed barrier vs. plastic fabric. All of Smith’s bikes come in large cardboard boxes, so instead of those boxes ending up in the landfill or power plant, Roush used them as a weed barrier. Over time, the cardboard naturally biodegrades and blends with the mulch beds as the plants expand to cover more space and acts to retain more water to keep the plants healthy and happy.

“It’s really a symbiotic little circle where everyone benefits,” said Roush, “I just love situations where everyone involved wins. We try to use good materials and design our landscaping so we’ll have a product that will last a very long time, be kind to the environment around us and be a great long term investment for our community. We approach every project we’ve built this way and fully intend to keep it up!”