What Is Stormwater?

Stormwater Basics Animation

When it rains or as snow melts the water needs to go somewhere. Some water soaks into the ground, some evaporates, and the rest flows over land into creeks, ponds, wetlands, and eventually into rivers and lakes. In urban areas, rain cannot soak into the ground because it cannot pass through concrete, asphalt, building rooftops, and other impervious materials. As water runs over these surfaces it picks up and carries pollutants such as oil, gas, lawn fertilizers, and trash, downstream to our rivers and lakes. In rural areas, chemical fertilizers and manure can be carried by rain water into drainage ditches that eventually make it to our lakes.


Fitchburg Stormwater Utility

The Fitchburg Stormwater Utility was created to finance methods used to control pollutants and suspended solids (sediment). Using detention ponds, drainage swales, rain gardens, and street sweeping, the city can improve water quality and reduce the quantity of stormwater before it is discharged into lakes and streams.

The stormwater utility is funded by charging landowners a fee based on the amount of impervious area on a property. Fitchburg offers ways to reduce your stormwater bill through credits for reducing stormwater run off from your property.

We also offer educational and outreach services to let the public know what they can do to help keep our waterways clean. Fitchburg's stormwater discharge permit is part of the Madison Area Municipal Storm Water Partnership (MAMSWaP).


Erosion is the act in which earth is worn away, often by water, wind, or ice, and moved from one place to another. While erosion is a natural process, human activity has increased the rate of erosion by 10-40 times! Fitchburg requires erosion control best management practices on construction sites to minimize the amount of sediment that gets carried off by rain fall. 

Additional Information

The following links contain information on how individuals can help improve water quality by constructing rain gardens, reducing fertilizer and pesticide use, and cleaning up pet waste.


Plans, Studies & Reports

Information on active and past stormwater management projects can be found on the projects page, here.  Project information will be updated as it becomes available. 

The Hillside Heights Watershed study report was conducted by MSA Professional Services, Inc. in 2009.  The full report is available here.

A Hillside Heights public meeting was held on August 31, 2018 to review possible solutions for stormwater. The presentation can be viewed here.

There have been extensive studies on the Nine Springs Creek in addition to city-wide plans.

If you are interested in viewing these please contact the Public Works Department (