La Crosse stormwater group seeks nominations for 3rd annual runoff awards

'Soak It Up!' award salutes projects that curb runoff pollution
Roush Rentals Waterview Appts.
Roush Rentals’ Waterview Apartments in South La Crosse won the “Soak It Up! Award” from the La Crosse Urban Stormwater Group last year. Its features include a system in which water from every downspout flows to a separate rain garden, among other runoff control measures. (Roush Rentals graphic.)

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) — Homeowners, businesses and nonprofits who reduce water runoff pollution in the urban area can vie to soak up an award.
Specifically, the honorifics mark the third annual “Soak It Up!” award from the La Crosse Urban Stormwater Group, singling out projects that mitigate runoff damage.
The projects curtail polluted runoff to waterways, beautify neighborhoods and inspire more local work, according to a news release from the group. All landscaping projects that reduce negative effects of stormwater runoff can be nominated.
The first award winner, in 2018, was Misty’s Dance Unlimited’s new building at 923 12th Ave. S. in Onalaska. At Misty’s, all rain and snowmelt from the roof and parking lot flow directly to three rain gardens, where water soaks into the ground and filters down to restore groundwater, according to the Urban Stormwater Group.
The basins are planted with deep-rooted native plants and trees that soak up stormwater and provide natural beauty and habitat for endangered species.
Last year, the group presented the award to Roush Rentals’ Waterview Apartments in South La Crosse, where water from every downspout flows to a separate rain garden. Additional basins absorb water from the parking lot, sidewalks and street.
Throughout the property, hundreds of sturdy native plants are planted in basins, on swales and in gardens to add beauty, loosen soil for better water absorption and attract pollinators, according to the group’s news release. The plants also thrive even when chemicals are necessary to manage winter ice.
Both past winners produce virtually zero polluted runoff from their properties,
This year the group is looking for other property owners who have taken the initiative and initiated such projects.
“We want to award those who have put in the work and are making a difference in the health of local waterways,” the La Crosse Urban Stormwater Group says.
Anyone can nominate a home, business or nonprofit stormwater management project — their own, a friend’s, or one they just admire.
Projects can be nominated at the organization’s website. The regional water education website also features information about managing runoff and how to complete stormwater projects on urban land.
The Stormwater Group represents communities in the area’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System area, including La Crosse, Onalaska, La Crosse County, Campbell, Holland, Town of Onalaska, Shelby, Holmen and West Salem.
It was formed to address Environmental Protection Agency and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System requirements. As a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System community, the La Crosse urban area aims for a 38 percent reduction in total suspended solids in runoff water.