LA CROSSE, Wis. (WEAU) -- A project in La Crosse is showing homeowners how they can help reduce water pollution due to stormwater runoff.
The "Soak It Up" project is being developed through a partnership between the La Crosse Area Habitat for Humanity and the La Crosse Urban Stormwater Group.
The project, outside the Habitat for Humanity ReStore, is almost complete.
“It was a combination of need meets our values," said Steve Baker, manager of the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. "Our values are wanting to promote reuse, and conservation, and affordable, sustainable homes, and so this project was a natural extension of that.”
Using biofilters and rain barrels, it keeps unfiltered rain water and snow out of local rivers and streams. Since rainwater can carry bacteria, chemicals, and oils, projects like this will help reduce water pollution.
“That is what becomes our drinking supply and it is the number one source of suspended pollution," said Baker. "It comes every time it rains, it washes the parking lots, and puts it in a place that we can't deal with it."
Another important part of the project is educating homeowners and small businesses how they can do the same at their own property.
“We're doing things here than people can replicate at home," said Baker. "So be it the use of natural prairie grasses and native species plants, biofilters which people can do at home, and also a rain garden, which, again, someone can apply at their own house.”
Other additions to the site include 700 native plants, three raised garden beds, and two food plots.
Still to come this winter: welding students at Western Technical College will build an artistic structure to place at the entryway, and students from Viterbo University will create educational signs.
A grant of nearly $40,000 from the La Crosse Community Foundation helped fund the project, and several local businesses also donated time and materials.
The public is invited to stop by the ReStore at any time to see the project and learn more.