Stormwater Education

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Great Blue Heron in backwater by Mississippi river

The City of Winona raingarden program offers residents the chance to receive up to $250 towards the construction of a raingarden. The first round of applications closes on Friday April 21, 2017. For questions, please contact John Howard: [email protected] or 457-8273.

Raingardens 2017 Application PDF Form

Raingardens 2017 Application Fill In Form

The Clean Water Act (CWA) was introduced in 1972 to help establish structure for regulating pollutant discharges into the water of the United States. This also introduced the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) which prohibits discharges of pollutants from any point source into the nation’s waters except as allowed by the NPDES permit. Phase I was issued in 1990 for large storm sewer systems and Phase II for smaller communities was signed in October of 1999.  The City of Winona operates under the Phase II of the NPDES MS4 General Permit.

The City’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) comprised of inlets, outlets, storm pipes, ponds, and other storm sewer structures that help convey stormwater throughout the City while reducing the amount of sediment and pollution that is collected before it exits the City and outfalls into various bodies of water nearby.

The City of Winona is required to follow the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency’s (MPCA) NPDES MS4 General Permit, which is intended to reduce the amount of sediment and pollution that enters surface and ground water from storm sewer systems to the maximum extent practicable. As a part of the MS4 General Permit, the City is required to develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP) that incorporates Best Management Practices (BMPs) applicable to its MS4.

Beginning January 1, 2003, a storm sewer utility was created by ordinance and a fee has been collected along with the quarterly billing for the water and sanitary sewer utilities. The purpose of the fee is to pay for increased treatment monitoring and education related to storm water runoff, as required by EPA Federal regulations. Fees collected will also be used for regular maintenance of the existing storm water collection system.

The Storm Sewer Utility fee is based on the size and zoned usage of the property. Theoretically, a large property or a property with significant impervious surface will generate more rainwater runoff than one that is smaller or less developed. The factors used to calculate the fee take this into consideration.

John Howard Natural Resources Sustainability  507-457-8273 or
What is stormwater management?

Stormwater Management is a program designed to reduce the pollution of surface water, such as ponds, and state waters such as streams, rivers and lakes. The City of Winona is classified as a “municipal separate storm sewer system”, or MS4. Beginning in 2007, Winona created and implemented a stormwater pollution prevention program (SWPPP) as required by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA).

The SWPPP requires six minimum control measures:

  • Public education & outreach;
  • Public participation/involvement;
  • Illicit discharge, detection & elimination;
  • Construction site runoff control;
  • Post-construction site runoff control; and
  • Pollution prevention/good housekeeping.

Winona’s storm sewer system comprises not only the storm drains and storm sewers, but also any channel carrying storm runoff to surface water, including city streets, curbs, gutters, and ditches.

Why is it important?

Stormwater runoff may be a major source of water pollution. Pollution can occur as stormwater runoff collects contaminants or trash. This unwanted runoff can occur from impervious surfaces such as roadways, roofs, parking lots, and sidewalks. Even yards and agricultural fields can add to the pollution if not properly managed.

Some of the pollutants carried in stormwater runoff are obvious, like road salt, oil and grease, dirt and debris. Others are less obvious, such as fertilizers and pesticides, animal waste, and other chemicals.

Here in Winona, between the highly erodable bluffs and the Mississippi River, we are especially vulnerable to erosion and surface water contamination.

What can I do?

A very important part of the SWPPP is public involvement. We need, and welcome, your participation and suggestions.


  • Be aware of the stormwater management program.
  • Follow ordinance regulations.
  • Contact us with any comments, questions or suggestions.
  • Properly dispose of all material such as paint, fertilizer, insecticides etc. Contact the Winona County Hazardous Waste depot, located at 225 W. 2nd St. or call (507) 457-6405.
  • Report any violations you observe.


  • Allow any improper discharge to the storm sewer system, including streets and gutters, including chemicals or litter.
  • “Look away” if you see a violation. This could be chemical or trash dumping, or construction material not contained with a silt fence, for example.