As an MSU student, faculty or staff member, or a visitor to campus, you are an essential part of the Red Cedar River Watershed, and your actions can help to protect our shared water resources.

You may have noticed labels attached to the storm drains and catch basins around campus. Storm drains, or catch basins are designed to carry rainwater away from developed areas to prevent flooding. The stormwater conveyance system is not connected to the sanitary sewer system, and the stormwater is never conveyed to the wastewater treatment plant. The stormwater flows through a network of drainage pipes until it reaches the Red Cedar River.

As stormwater flows, it picks up pollutants from parking lots, roadways, sidewalks and lawn areas before it reaches the river. This type of pollution is known as nonpoint source pollution, which is our nation’s largest remaining water quality problem. If more people become informed about the link between storm drains and our surface waters, we can all help to protect and restore the quality of our waters.

For more information about Red Cedar River educational activities, please contact Ruth Kline-Robach at the Institute of Water Research at

Thank you for playing a role in protecting the water in the Red Cedar River!


Image credit: Erin Rau


  • Report spills! If you notice any unusual discharge(s) into the Red Cedar River, please call MSU Environmental Health and Safety at 517.355.0153.
  • Don’t litter (even cigarette butts)! Take advantage of the trash and recycling bins found in each building on campus. If trash and recyclables are properly disposed of, it will prevent litter from finding its way into the Red Cedar River.
  • Don’t overflow trash receptacles, especially ones that are located outside. If the receptacles are full, contact your building coordinator or the Residential and Hospitality Services Office at 517.355.7457.
  • Never dump anything down a storm drain, and report it to the Environmental Health and Safety Office if you see someone else doing so.
  • Check your car frequently for leaks and spills. By properly maintaining your car, and making repairs of leaks immediately, you can prevent oil, antifreeze, and other toxic substances from entering the storm drains.
  • Refrain from feeding the ducks and other waterfowl that inhabit the Red Cedar River. Feeding them results in unnatural concentrations of waterfowl in one area which can result in high concentrations of bacteria.
  • Participate in on-campus activities that promote the protection of the Red Cedar River and our watershed, such as river clean-ups, storm drain labeling and water quality monitoring activities.
  • Spread the word about protecting our waterways from polluted runoff.
  • Clean up waste from pets. This is one way to reduce fecal pollution. Learn how else you can reduce E. coli by downloading this homeowners guide.
  • Properly store, use and dispose of household hazardous waste, and recycle used motor oil. Ingham County collects household hazardous waste materials. Learn more here.
  • Keep yard waste, trash, and dirt off the street and out of the gutters.
  • Apply pesticides and fertilizers sparingly, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application.
  • Wash your car at a car wash facility instead of in the driveway.
  • If your property borders a stream or lake, consider installing a riparian buffer. This will help protect the water’s edge. Learn more by downloading this brochure.
  • Volunteer for local river clean-ups, storm drain labeling or other activities that promote the protection of our water resources. Learn more about water resources groups in the Mid-Michigan area by visiting
  • Learn more about how you can protect water quality at home from the Greater Lansing Regional Committee for Stormwater website.

Institute of Water Research
Department of Community Sustainability
Michigan State University

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