GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – It is Stormwater Week in Wisconsin, and officials statewide are warning the public about the environmental impacts of stormwater runoffs.

In Green Bay, Public Works Director Steve Grenier says once harsh chemicals enter waterways, it is nearly impossible to undo.

[Water is a finite resource,” explained Grenier. “It’s something we need to take care of because once you contaminate it, the cost to remediate and to restore back to its previous condition is exorbitant.”

The two biggest reasons for chemicals in stormwater runoff are the de-icing agents used to treat snow on the roads in the winter and the fertilizer used to grow crops and lush, green lawns.

“Salt dissolves in water,” Grenier said. “Once it’s dissolved in the water, it doesn’t come out, so as we are putting road salt down to keep snow and ice management during the winter, that gets dissolved into the runoff.”

When it comes to growing agents like manure or grass clippings, they contain phosphorous, which creates algae in the water. That is why the Bay of Green Bay is, well, green.

With climate change and long summers, Water Quality Specialist with the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Julia Noordyk says conditions are only expected to get worse.

“As our climate changes and we start to see warmer, hotter summers that last longer, the season for harmful algae blooms and becomes extended,” explained Noordyk.

Green Bay is currently working toward solutions to combat stormwater runoff, like installing grass medians along University Avenue to soak up water.

There are also small things the general public can do to improve water quality.

In the warmer months, be sure not to blow grass clippings into the street after mowing, and in the winter, snow should be kept away from sewer openings to prevent salt from getting in.

The Green Bay Public Works Department is also working on a “Green Storm Water Infrastructure” plan that will introduce more ways to combat storm runoff.