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UI Stormwater Program (MS4 permit and requirements)

ui Stormwater Program Summary

Stormwater is the water runoff from storms, snow melt, and surface drainage. This stormwater runs into either storm drains or natural waterways. A stormwater permit is required to authorize discharging the flow of stormwater into rivers, streams, or other water bodies.

Stormwater is not treated or filtered prior to being discharged into rivers or streams. Therefore, the owner of the storm sewer system is required to take certain measures to minimize the contamination of the stormwater prior to discharging it into water bodies.
Because this water is not treated before being returned to natural waterways it is very important that stormwater drains be kept free of illicit materials.

A stormwater permit is issued by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources to give the permitee a guideline of what is required for stormwater drainage into state waterways. The Clean Water Act requires a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to be able to discharge stormwater from the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) in to waterways. The complete program The University of Iowa is required to maintain for this permit is called a Stormwater Phase II Program. This program uses several techniques to reduce the amount of pollutants discharged, protect water quality, and satisfy water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act. These techniques consist of a public education and outreach program, public participation, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site runoff control, post-construction runoff control, and pollution prevention by using good housekeeping practices. These techniques are outlined below.

Public Education and Outreach

A public education and outreach program is needed to give the public a better understanding of the public's personal responsibilities to maintain a clean environment. Responsibilities include taking steps to reduce the pollutants in stormwater, understanding the impact of stormwater on water quality, and reporting any illicit materials in stormwater drainage by phone or mail. Stormwater drains are marked with the stickers shown below.

No Dumping Image
No Dumping Image No Dumping Image

Public Participation

Public participation is key to this program. To include the public we will be having publicly held meetings to get input and suggestions about how the program is running and to give out information on new developments in the program.

There are many ways that people can reduce the amount of pollutants in stormwater, by being aware of illicit materials that are being put in to storm sewers and being up to date on present stormwater activities. Illicit materials are any substances that are not stormwater or pure water. Anyone may report any illicit discharge by calling one of the contact phone numbers on the Contacts Page or by filling out a report form.

More information is available on the Links Page.

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

An illicit discharge is defined as any discharge to an MS4 that is not composed entirely of stormwater. Illicit discharges can come from damaged drain systems, pollution, direct intentful connections to stormwater drains that do not discharge stormwater, or intentful dumping of illicit materials into stormwater drains.

To detect illicit materials, inspections of the outfalls where stormwater is drained into waterways are carried out. Samples are taken, public inquiries are investigated, and pictures of outfalls will be taken. Also, any priority areas that have a likelihood of having connections that discharge illicit materials will be identified and monitored.

Once a problem has been identified the source of the illicit material will be identified and the offender will be notified and directed to disconnect the illicit connection. If the offender does not take immediate action to correct the problem, then legal actions will be taken. All actions will be documented and reported in the annual stormwater report.

Construction Site Runoff Control

Construction activities that result in a land disturbance of greater than or equal to one acre are required to have an operator implement an MS4 program to reduce the amount of pollutants in stormwater runoff from the construction site. The program must include an ordinance requiring the implementation of proper erosion and sediment controls, a site plan review of potential water quality impacts, site inspections, and sanctions to ensure compliance.

Post-Construction Runoff Control

Post-construction runoff controls have shown to be the most cost-effective approach to stormwater quality management. Post-construction sediment is easily washed away in water flows into stormwater drains. Sediments like oil, grease, pesticides, heavy metals, nitrogen, and phosphorus can be left unchecked when a working crew leaves a construction site. Also, water flows in streams and rivers can be severely altered because new buildings and parking lots add drainage to stormwater sewers and transfer the water to waterways instead of allowing the water to be absorbed by the ground, plant life, and wildlife. Post-construction runoff controls consist of inspecting completed construction sites, tracking stormwater and waterways connected to newly constructed sites, and ordinances requiring post-construction runoff controls.

Pollution Prevention Using Good Housekeeping Practices

An operation and maintenance program that strictly outlines the procedures and requirements for the MS4 has been put together to help train employees on pollution prevention and good housekeeping practices. Best management practices and measurable goals for the program will also be included in the procedures and requirements.

The University of Iowa's stormwater permit covers all 1,968 acres of the campus. To monitor the quality of water discharged into waterways, sampling of water discharge, tracking of water flow, and annual inspections of all outfalls into waterways will be done. MS4 permits are already in force in several other large local municipalities and you can review their programs by visiting their site from our Links Page. For information on how to contact the Facilities Management Water Plant concerning stormwater please visit the Contacts Page.

For additional information on construction site inspections and management, see Environmental Services Stormwater Management.