What is Storm Water?
Storm water is the flow of water that results from precipitation and which occurs immediately following rainfall, or as a result of snowmelt. When a rainfall event occurs, several things can happen to the precipitation. Some of the precipitation infiltrates into the soil surface, some is taken up by plants, and some is evaporated into the atmosphere. Storm water is the rest of the precipitation that runs off land surfaces and impervious areas.
Storm water discharges are generated by precipitation and runoff from land, pavements, building rooftops and other surfaces. These hardened surfaces are called ‘impervious surfaces’ and they do not allow rainfall to infiltrate into the soil surface like natural vegetation, so more of the rainfall becomes storm water runoff. Storm water runoff accumulates pollutants such as oil and grease, chemicals, nutrients, metals, and bacteria as it travels across land.
Storm water runoff may be carried through natural or manmade drainage ways or conveyance systems. In some cases storm water runoff leaves a site spread out over a large dispersed area as “sheet flow.” It may also be conveyed through natural ditches, swales and natural drainage features. In most developing and urbanizing areas, storm water is conveyed through a system of catch basins and pipes commonly referred to as a storm sewer system. At TWU, storm water moves across campus through a combination of all of these methods.
Why be Concerned About Storm Water?
Storm water can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants and flow into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing, and providing drinking water.
Polluted storm water runoff can have many adverse effects on plants, fish, animals, and people.
- Sediment can cloud the water and make it difficult or impossible for aquatic plants to grow. Sediment also can destroy aquatic habitats
- Excess nutrients can cause algae blooms. When algae die, they sink to the bottom and decompose in a process that removes oxygen from the water. Fish and other aquatic organisms can't exist in water with low dissolved oxygen levels.
- Bacteria and other pathogens can wash into swimming areas and create health hazards, often making beach closures necessary.
Debris—plastic bags, six-pack rings, bottles, and cigarette butts—washed into waterbodies can choke, suffocate, or disable aquatic life like ducks, fish, turtles, and birds.
- Household hazardous wastes like insecticides, pesticides, paint, solvents, used motor oil, and other auto fluids can poison aquatic life. Land animals and people can become sick or die from eating diseased fish and shellfish or ingesting polluted water.
- Polluted storm water often affects drinking water sources. This, in turn, can affect human health and increase drinking water treatment costs.
What TWU is Doing
TWU has developed a Storm Water Management Program as part of a new storm water discharge permit for the Denton campus. The Storm Water Management Program describes the Best Management Practices (BMPs) that TWU will be implementing to reduce our impact on storm water discharged from the campus. BMPs have been selected for each of the following categories:
- Education and Outreach on Storm Water Impacts
- Public Involvement and Participation
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping for TWU Facilities and Operations
- Construction Site Storm Water Runoff Control
- Post-Construction Storm Water Management in New Development and Redevelopment
Full text of the Storm Water Management Program for TWU's Denton campus.
TWU has also developed a Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plan for the Denton campus primarily aimed at controlling environmental impacts from potential releases of petroleum products.
What You Can Do
There are a number of simple things that you can do that will help prevent storm water pollution on campus:
- Never dump/pour anything into the storm drains or onto the ground! Contact the Director of Environmental, Safety & Health at x2924 for assistance with proper disposal procedures.
- Do not litter the campus/practice good housekeeping. In addition to preserving the beauty of our campus, it will prevent debris from contaminating waterbodies.
- Do not place materials in outdoor trash receptacles that will leak out, or that will contaminate storm water that falls into the container. Keep trash containers covered whenever possible.
- Do not wash or clean anything outdoors, or allow wash water to run outdoors. This includes vehicle washing, and any cleaning done with anything other than potable water.
- Store materials (both liquids and solids) where they will not impact storm water
- Provide liquids with secondary containment, such as a "spill pallet" or a flammable storage cabinet, if a leak or spill could reach the outside environment or a storm drain.
- Report any illicit dumping or discharges immediately to the Department of Public Safety (x2911).
- Contact the Director of Environmental, Safety & Health (x2924) with any suggestions for improving TWU's management of storm water!
Storm Water Awareness Training
Completion of Storm Water Awareness training is recommended for all members of the University community, and is required for all employees who normally work on the Denton campus.
Storm Water Awareness training can be found in the "Risk Management" organization within Blackboard.
page last updated 5/6/2013 7:55 AM