Monday, August 29, 2022 1:05 PM
Stormwater Infrastructure Grant Program is designed to increase the resiliency of rural communities.
A new $2 million La Crosse County program will help protect rural areas from heavy flooding that threatens homes and public infrastructure.
The Stormwater Infrastructure Grant Program was approved by the La Crosse County Board in July and is now open for applications. The program is available only in unincorporated parts of the county, which means rural areas and towns. It will pay for projects that mitigate risks from flooding, improve water quality, and increase the resiliency of stormwater infrastructure.
“Extreme rainfall events are increasing in frequency in our region, leading to more flooding, erosion and damage to public infrastructure,” said Matt Hanewall, Director of the La Crosse County Land Conservation Department. “This program will fund projects that protect rural communities against this growing threat.”
Town governments in La Crosse County, which are unincorporated, may lack the financial resources to upgrade stormwater infrastructure. The new county program will cover up to 90% of engineering and construction costs for projects that receive funding. The maximum project cost share is $50,000 for design work, or $500,000 for a project that’s ready to go. Hanewall said the program, which is being funded by the county’s American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allocation, has already generated significant interest from town officials.
“We know there’s a great need for this program in rural areas and we are grateful for the support of the County Board,” he said. “Our plan now is to invest the funding as quickly and efficiently as we can to have the greatest impact.”
Studies have shown an increase in major flood events in Wisconsin in recent years. The trend is expected to continue, putting a strain on the infrastructure that connects communities. Monica Kruse, La Crosse County Board Chair, said the county is focused on meeting that challenge.
“We have to work together to address the growing threat of extreme weather,” Kruse said. “This program is a great example of how we can use the county’s ARPA funding to partner with rural towns and communities to make a real difference in protecting public infrastructure and private investment.”
Applications to the program will be scored and ranked and will then go to the county’s Planning, Resource and Development Committee for approval. Stormwater management projects on public land or easements will be eligible. Applications must come from towns or other public agencies. You can view program guidelines online at Land Conservation (lacrossecounty.org)