Storm Water

What is storm water & why is it important?

When rain falls to the ground it becomes known as stormwater. Stormwater that falls on pervious surfaces (grass, fields, natural areas, etc.) has a chance to soak into the ground before running off into streams and lakes. Stormwater that falls on impervious surfaces (roofs, driveways, roads, sidewalks, etc.) is not allowed to soak into the ground resulting in more stormwater running off into streams and lakes at a faster rate. 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.

Storm Water Management in River Falls

The City of River Falls is the largest City in Wisconsin on a Class 1 Trout Stream, and we want to do everything we can to keep it that way. The Kinnickinnic River and its tributaries are valuable trout waters of regional significance, representing a major natural amenity of the community. Uncontrolled stormwater 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 is the City Doing?

The City prepared a Water Management Plan entitled "Water Management Plan for the Kinnickinnic River and Its' Tributaries, " which was completed in 1995. The Kinnickinnic Watershed had a DNR Priority Watershed Plan created for it as part of that project. In addition in 2001, the City passed a storm water ordinance far exceeding anything the DNR was requiring at the time. The City participates in the Kinnickinnic Watershed Partnership, and has committed to the Strategic Action Plan created by the group in 2016.

In recent years the City has completed various projects in accordance with our water quality goals, such as the Lake George Project, a Rain Garden Demonstration Project, the West Side Storm Water Demonstration Project, and many others.

DNR Permit

Many communities are now required to obtain a permit from 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 Milwaukee, Madison and Minneapolis/St. Paul. Phase II targets communities with populations over 10,000. The city of River Falls was brought into the program under Phase II in 2006.

To obtain a discharge permit the City must perform activities in 6 areas:
1.Public education and outreach
2.Public participation and involvement
3.Illicit discharge detection and elimination
4.Construction site runoff control
5.Post-construction runoff control
6.Pollution prevention/Good housekeeping

Annual reports are required to document progress in each of these areas throughout the year. The most recent annual report can be viewed in the right hand column.


The stormwater program is funded through a storm water utility fund.

Citizens can help
There are simple things we can all do to help improve stormwater 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.

Rain to Rivers

The city is also part of an educational partnership called Rain to Rivers of Western Wisconsin. This partnership facilitates the coordination of information and education programs among the different members. For more information check out the Rain to Rivers website.