Protect Our Streams

In La Crosse and other cities and towns hard surfaces now replace soil and native plants that absorb water. As a result, water runs from roofs, roads, parking lots and driveways into drainage systems that take it directly to streams and ultimately, the Mississippi River. The water picks up soil, sand, grass, leaves, chemicals, and trash as it moves, and they end up in the river, too.

We can all make small changes at home, at work, and on construction sites to reduce this runoff and make our rivers and communities better places to be. Read on to learn how.


Part of the challenge is seeing and doing ordinary things in new ways. In La Crosse County, some neighborhoods are working together to help each other make changes in these six areas:

Car Care
Lawn Care
Icy Sidewalks
Using Less


Business owners who manage runoff are leaders. They gain respect from customers and colleagues, inspire others with visible investment and honest stories, and have the satisfaction of being good stewards. If the community has a stormwater utility, capturing rain water on the business site reduces utility costs.

Begin with this brochure: Managing Stormwater Runoff: A Self- Assessment Guide for Wisconsin Businesses.

Business Management
Parking Lots


It's essential for homeowners and builders to understand erosion control fundamentals. In our area this is really important because many homes are built on steep slopes. Our landscape also causes water to rush from bluffs and coulees when it rains.

La Crosse County's stormwater permitting process is designed to help builders and homeowners keep soil in place during construction and afterward. Forms and directions for getting a permit in La Crosse County and all of its municipalities are in the Permits section below.

Learn the basics here:

Planning a Home in the Country
Site Management Basics for Home Builders
Plan Ahead: Some Projects Need Committee Review

Thinking about a place in the country?


Living in the country is a dream for many people in La Crosse County.

Before you decide to make the move, consider:

Site topography and sediment
A home design that fits the site
Driveway design, cost, and
Building codes and local
Building permits
Water source
Utilities and distance to services
Insurance and fire ratings
Commute time and expense

Learn more here.

Where do I get a rain barrel?

In La Crosse, buy a locally-made rain barrel from the Washburn Neighborhood Association for $35. Call Randy Magno, president of the Association, at 608.784.2377. Lean more about the benefits of collecting rain water here.

Did you know?

When you plant native plants along a stream's edge, you protect the water.

Here's why: When water falls on a natural landscape, 90% sinks into the ground on the spot. Only 10% runs off. When a lawn is manicured to the stream's edge, five times more water runs from lawn to stream, taking with it six times more phosphorus and 18 times more sediment than on a natural landscape.

Darlene Charboneau
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