Water Quality

Storm Water Pollution Prevention

Storm Water Questions & Answers
What is storm water?

Storm water is any precipitation that falls during a storm event. Complications arise when this runoff collects oils, grease, fertilizers, pesticides, trash, and other debris as it travels along engineered and natural conveyances, eventually ending up in waters of the state. This addition of polluted water to streams has detrimental effects on the flora and fauna associated with them; not to mention our enjoyment of the serene beauty a stream ecosystem provides.

What is the difference between a sewer and storm drain?

The main difference between sanitary sewer drains and storm drains is that the contents of the sanitary sewer drain go through various treatment processes at a wastewater treatment facility in order to meet state and federal regulations regarding the quality of water being released back into circulation. Storm drains on the other hand, act as channels to funnel runoff away from urbanized areas quickly as possible to prevent flooding and deposits the untreated water into nearby waterways. The duration between rain events, the amount of vehicle traffic, the amount of impervious surfaces, and the quantity of various debris materials lying around is positively correlated to biological and physical stream degradation.

What is IU doing to help reduce storm water pollution?

Indiana University recognizes its daily operations may impact the health of our watershed and has taken action to manage storm water runoff in order to minimize any adverse effects associated with its discharge. One such action taken by Indiana University has been to implement a Storm Water Quality Management Plan (SWQMP) in accordance with the Environmental Protection Agency’s NPDES Phase II requirements which were interpreted for the state of Indiana by the Indiana Department of Environmental Management, 327IAC15-13. Outlined within this permit are six minimum control measures that act as guidelines for municipalities, universities, and correction institutions to follow to minimize the harmful effects of storm water runoff. The six minimum control measures are:

  • Public Education and Outreach
  • Public Participation and Involvement
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Construction site Runoff Control
  • Post-Construction Runoff Control
  • Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
How can I help?

There are a few common guidelines you can follow to greatly reduce the impact of storm water pollution in our waterways:

  • Do Not Put Anything Down A Storm Drain! Remember, these drain directly into waterways without treatment.
  • Just because something is organic does not mean it is safe for the environment. Unnatural quantities of material like dirt, grass clippings and leaf litter can all cause adverse effects on stream integrity by changing the benthic substrate, reducing the amount of available light, and changing oxygen contents of the stream.
  • Wash your car at commercial carwashes or on grass with environmentally friendly detergent. Commercial carwash drainage goes into the local sewer system for treatment. Washing your car on the grass allows the water to percolate through the soil, taking advantage of nature’s own water treatment system.
  • Do not litter. Not only does it reduce the aesthetic appeal of your surroundings, but it is also harmful to aquatic organisms.
  • Report any violations you see on campus to the University Office of Environmental, Health & Safety Management by filling out the online form or by calling 812 855 6311.
  • Volunteer your time with organizations dedicated to environmental issues.