WHAT IS STORM WATER?

In developed areas, storm water runs off rooftops, streets, parking lots, yards, sidewalks and fields, after a rain event or snowmelt, carrying pollutants with it. There is a storm water system in place consisting of storm drains (also called catch basins), pipes and outfalls that are designed to carry rainwater away from developed areas in order to prevent flooding. This separated system is not connected to the sanitary sewer system, and the water is not treated at the wastewater treatment plant.

LEARN MORE ABOUT STORM WATER


WHERE DOES STORM WATER GO?

On campus, and the areas surrounding campus, untreated storm water flows into the storm drains and is conveyed directly into the Red Cedar River.


WHY IS IT A PROBLEM?

Storm water carries high concentrations of the pollutants with it, and this pollution can lead to the destruction of aquatic life, fish and wildlife habitats, and loss in aesthetic values.


HOW DOES STORM WATER BECOME POLLUTED?

Storm water picks up pollutants, trash and debris as it travels to the storm drain. Many everyday activities may contribute to storm water pollution:

  • Improperly using of fertilizers and pesticides
  • Leaving grass clippings, leaves or other yard debris on driveways, sidewalks and roads
  • Washing vehicles on pavement, which allows the wastewater to travel toward a storm drain
  • Improperly maintaining our vehicles, which may result in oil and antifreeze leaks
  • Leaving pet waste on the ground, which can lead to bacteria and other pathogens contaminating the storm water
  • Improperly storing, using or disposing of household chemicals.

WHAT ELSE CAN I DO TO HELP MANAGE STORM WATER?

There are several ways to help manage storm water at home or work. Consult the resources on the right side of this page or visit our tips page.


HOW CAN STORM WATER CAUSE FLOODING?

Storm water conveyance systems are used to carry storm water away from developed areas to prevent flooding, but this process may lead to flooding of the river. Under natural conditions, water is allowed to infiltrate into the soil, and water that does not infiltrate slowly makes its way to the river. This natural and slow process prevents erosion and flooding of the river. However, large amounts of water that are conveyed to the river after heavy rains may exceed the capacity of the river, resulting in the erosion of riverbanks and flooding.


MY PROPERTY BORDERS A TRIBUTARY OF THE RED CEDAR RIVER. SHOULD I BE CONCERNED ABOUT STORM WATER?

Land that directly borders a stream, river, lake or other water body is also known as a riparian zone. If your property has riparian zones, you can play a significant role in protecting water quality in your own backyard. Allowing vegetation including trees, shrubs, grasses or wildflowers to grow along a stream bank protects against soil erosion and reduces polluted runoff. Learn about riparian buffers and how to install them in this brochure.


HOW DOES MSU MANAGE STORM WATER?

Michigan State University is required to have a permit for its storm water discharges into the Red Cedar and implement a Storm Water Management Plan. More information about the plan and requirements is available here.

Institute of Water Research
Department of Community Sustainability
Michigan State University
Email: kliner@anr.msu.edu
Phone: +1 517-353-2880


© Michigan State University Board of Trustees.
MSU is an affirmative-action, equal-opportunity employer.

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