Engineering: Storm Water
Weather Station on City Hall
What is storm water and why is it important?
As rain falls to the ground it becomes known as storm water. Storm water that falls on pervious surfaces (grass, fields, natural areas, etc.) soaks into the ground without running off into streams and lakes. Storm water that falls on impervious surfaces (roofs, driveways, roads, sidewalks, etc.) is not allowed to soak into the ground and runs off into streams and lakes. This runoff has negative effects on the river or lake system including: increased flooding frequency and amount, decreased water clarity, stress on insects and fish, thermal pollution, depletion of drinking water supplies, and many others.
Why is this important in River Falls?
The City of River Falls and adjacent townships are facing growing development pressures from the Minneapolis/St. Paul Metropolitan area. The Kinnickinnic River and its tributaries are valuable trout waters of regional significance, representing a major natural amenity of the community. Uncontrolled storm water runoff will result in increased water temperatures that threaten high quality trout waters; therefore, the protection of the water quality of the Kinnickinnic River is critical to the environmental and economic future of the community.
What can you do to improve the effects of storm water?
There are simple things we can all do to help improve storm water quality. Check out the Your Property page for small things homeowners can do on their property. It does not take large or costly projects to make a difference. In fact, small inexpensive practices can add up to a great deal of improvement.
What do you do if you observe someone washing or dumping something other than storm water in a storm drain?
Putting anything other than storm water in a storm drain is illegal. If you observe any illegal dumping please contact the Engineering Department immediately at 715-425-0900 or contact the police department after hours at 715-426-0909. If we can respond while the dumping is occurring or shortly after, we can hopefully contain it, prevent discharge to the river, and clean it up properly.
What is the City doing?
Beginning in 1991, the City prepared a Water Management Plan entitled "Water Management Plan for the Kinnickinnic River and Its' Tributaries." The Water Management Plan was completed in 1995. The Water Management Plan was designed to "deliver good quality storm water runoff to the Kinnickinnic River at acceptable rates and volumes to reduce pollutant loading and stream bed/stream bank degradation, and maintain a river temperature suitable to support a cold water fishery."
Since that time the City has been following up on these goals with projects such as the Lake George Project, the Raingarden Demonstration Project and the West Side Storm Water Demonstration Project among others.
The City is also part of an educational partnership in the Eau Claire area called Rain to Rivers. This partnership facilitates the coordination of information and education programs among the different members. For more information check out the Rain to Rivers website.
What is a storm water discharge permit?
Many communities with storm sewer systems are now required to obtain state permits before discharging storm water into streams and lakes. These permits are required by federal and state laws and are administered by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR). The permit program has been phased in over time. Phase I mainly affected large communities such as
To obtain a discharge permit the City must perform activities in 6 areas:
- Public education and outreach
- Public participation and involvement
- Illicit discharge detection and elimination
- Construction site runoff control
- Post-construction runoff control
- Pollution prevention/Good housekeeping
How is the storm water program funded?
The storm water program is funded through a storm water utility fund. For more information about the storm water utility, see the engineering information page.