Public Education & Outreach

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How Can I Reduce Stormwater Pollution?

On the other side of your lawn lie the rivers, streams and lakes that make our community a beautiful place to live, play, travel and recreate. Even if your house is not lakefront property, what you do in your lawn, as well as the local streets and sidewalks, directly impacts our local waters. Every time it rains, water that flows off lawns, streets and sidewalks go into the storm drains in the street, which goes directly to the local river, stream or lake without any filtering or de-contaminating. With this rain water and snow melt, pollutants such as grass clippings, leaves, cigarette butts, pet waste, oil, pesticides and other trash also enter the storm drain and are discharged directly to the Mississippi River and other area bodies of water. These many contaminates deteriorate water quality of our local waterways.

Sediment washing into a lake or stream settles out and begins to fill in the basin. Before settling out, sediments will make the water appear cloudy or murky, which affects the aesthetics of the body of water as well as the survival of fish and various aquatic plants.

When many of the chemicals and substances like grass clippings are delivered to a river, lake or streams by either urban or rural runoff, the growth of algae and aquatic plants in the lake will increase. Algae and aquatic plants are important in providing habitat for fish and wildlife. However, rapid and excessive growth of algae and aquatic plants can deteriorate water quality and can impair recreational enjoyment.

Toxic chemicals such as lead, from gas and auto exhaust, zinc from roof drains and tires, insecticides, herbicides, and other pesticides are carried by stormwater runoff in both urban and rural areas. These materials can affect the "health" of fish and other forms of aquatic life living in rivers, lakes and streams.

We all pay for poorly managed stormwater, as it will cost a community both in dollars and environmental damage. Poorly managed stormwater runoff can cause: flooding of lakes, streams, streets, and homes erosion of roadbeds, stream banks, and beaches pollution affecting the quality of lakes, streams, and drinking water. Keeping pollutants out of the stormwater runoff is less expensive than installing stormwater treatment facilities.

Having a clean environment is of primary importance for our health and economy. Clean waterways provide recreation, commercial opportunities, fish habitat, and add beauty to our landscape. All of us benefit from clean water- and all of us have a role in getting and keeping our rivers, lakes, streams and ground water clean.

See below for some of the easy steps that you can take to help prevent stormwater pollution.

Tips on Stormwater Pollution Prevention


Businesses and residences can help prevent pollutants from entering the storm water in many ways. Below is a summary of some of those ways. Consult the resource links on the left side of this page for further details.

  • Don't throw cigarette butts or other trash from your car into the street or curb. Dispose of properly in the garbage.
  • Wash your car on the lawn or at the car wash
  • Pick up and dispose of pet waste by placing it in a bag and putting it in the garbage.
  • Reduce fertilizer and weed control use
  • Mow your lawn as to keep the grass clippings out of the street and gutter
  • Keep leaf piles several feet away from inlet grates
  • Never dump or stockpile dirt or wood ships in the street
  • Direct downspouts to your lawn
  • Keep your car tuned and fix leaks immediately
  • Consider installing implementing stormwater retention methods on your property

Report potentially dangerous spills to the la crosse utilities office at (608) 789-7536 during normal business hours, or call (608) 789-7330 after 5pm weekdays, on weekends or holidays.


Stormwater Pollution Prevention Links