Stormwater Quantity vs. Quality

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There are two important aspects of storm water . . . Quantity and Quality. The Storm Water Department strives to maintain the City's system to provide adequate levels of flood protection and pollution prevention efforts.


The City of La Crosse has two separate drainage or conveyance systems . . . Stormwater and Wastewater. The stormwater conveyance system is a system of sidewalks, streets, curb & gutter, underground pipes and culverts, which channel rainfall runoff untreated directly to the Mississippi River and other local waterways. The Wastewater system is a network of underground pipes to transport wastewater to the wastewater treatment plant.

Rainfall runoff is collected from adjacent properties by having the curb and gutter, as well as the streets, collect the runoff and carries it to curb inlets. The inlets are connected to an underground pipe system which channels the runoff to the major ditches.

The system, whether it be sidewalks, streets, or pipes, is designed to accommodate the runoff from a storm of a specific intensity (how fast the rain falls) and duration (how long the storm lasts). If a storm event exceeds the design parameters, the excess runoff can not be accommodated by the system and in the street itself causing localized street flooding. Once the event has passed, the water is carried off through the system in a relatively short time.


Stormwater is untreated and drains directly into stormsewer conveyance system and ultimately to the Mississippi River and other local waterways. The system serves to carry rainwater off urban streets, parking lots, construction sites, neighborhoods, and agricultural lands. As the water runs off these surfaces, various pollutants including oils, dirts, pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers are carried into the drainage system and into area streams and bays.

In YEAR, the City received a permit from the EPA to drain storm water into the Mississippi River. The permit was a negotiated management plan to control the discharge of pollutants into storm water runoff. Several pollution prevention inspection, monitoring, and educational programs are ongoing.