The university community includes students, faculty, medical researchers, staff, and patients who may not always be aware of their potential impact on the campus environment, including surrounding areas. Stormwater runoff is one area that can have a wide impact – on campus and eventually nearby creeks that flow into the South Platte River.
Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground without sinking in. Impervious surfaces like parking lots prevent the stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground. As stormwater runoff flows over pedestrian walkways, landscaped areas, roadways and parking lots, it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants. Stormwater flows into storm sewer collection drains that flow directly to river systems such as Tollgate Creek and/or Sand Creek that eventually flow to the Platte River. At the Denver Campus, all storm sewer drains flow through Denver Wastewater piping directly to the Platte River.
It is important to remember, anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into waterbodies that are used for recreation and eventual drinking water. Polluted runoff is the nation’s greatest threat to clean water. The resulting stream or river pollution can have a great effect on the aquatic life in the body of water.
Specific areas of stormwater pollution include:
- Sediment generated by construction activities that can be washed into the storm sewer system
- Construction waste and litter that can be washed into the storm sewer system if not picked up on a regular basis
- Improper disposal of liquids such as cleaning solutions, laboratory chemicals, or other liquid wastes that can leak out of solid waste containers and drain with stormwater into the storm sewer system
- Chemicals that may spill as a result of accidents during loading or unloading at shipping and receiving locations and/or spills of fuel that can occur during the filling of equipment at storage tanks
- Fertilizers and pesticides used in maintaining the landscaped grounds during the summer months may adversely affect water quality if application rates and timing of applications are inappropriate or if spills of these chemicals occur and are not properly contained and cleaned up
- Deicer chemicals, salt, and sand used on the streets and parking areas during the winter months may be carried to the storm sewer system when snow, accumulated in piles during routine snow removal activities, melts
By practicing healthy pollution prevention habits, campus users can keep pollutants like dirt and common garbage that collect on paved areas from being washed into storm drains. If you observe pollution concerns that you believe need attention (outside of a fenced construction zone which are under a different regulator permit), you may call Facilities Management Customer Service Center at 303-724-1777 or do your part by helping to pick up trash in outdoor areas and make sure it is properly disposed in nearby trash receptacles – especially keep trash away from around storm drains.
Both the Denver Campus and the Anschutz Medical Campus are required to administer MS4 Storm water Permits (CDPS Permit #COR-090075). To request a review of the university storm water management plan, to make comments or suggestions, or to report potential storm water contamination concerns please email my.CU.edu Roen, or call 303-724-1103.