Increased artesian water flow on Louis Street redirected

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The stream of water behind the former Alaska Fur Trading building now flows down through a grate and into a sewer pipe rather than onto Louis Street.


By Ted Pennekamp


For the past two winters, Louis Street in Prairie du Chien has had a problem with ice forming on the road. The Prairie du Chien Street Department recently alleviated the problem by installing a concrete catch basin box and a grate behind the former Alaska Fur Trading building.

“Last winter, it was just terrible,” said Street Department Superintendent Dan Titlbach. “Louis Street was completely covered in ice.”

Titlbach said the new catch basin box is 24 inches wide, 24 inches long and 30 inches deep, with six-inch thick concrete walls. The water now runs behind the former Alaska Fur Trading building, down into the grate and catch basin box and into a 10-inch wide storm sewer pipe rather than onto Louis Street.

Titlbach said the water has been directed down North Prairie Street towards the radio station and eventually drains into the Mississippi River. He said there are similar catch basin boxes at numerous locations in the city, including two on North Prairie Street and two on North Main Street.

Titlbach said there is an artesian vein at the rear of the former Fur Trading building. It is not known, however, exactly why the flow has gotten more robust in recent years. He said some people say the water began flowing more when the artesian well at the Prairie du Chien Library was capped. Others, said Titlbach, say the water flows more when the river stage hits 14 feet. There is an artesian aquifer under much of Prairie du Chien, he said.

Patrick Igou, who has owned the building for the past four years, said the water began flowing year ‘round two years ago. He said during the first two years that he owned the building, the water flowed for 10 months.

There is an old cistern near one corner of the lower level of the building and the water flows through the foundation and creates a small, yet steady, stream that now runs into the catch basin box. 

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