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Stormwater Management Program Overview

The Department of Environmental, Health and Safety (DEHS) administers the Stormwater Management Program to protect water quality and to ensure that the University complies with all appropriate water quality requirements outlined in the federal Clean Water Act.


The Stormwater Management Program ensures that the University complies with the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System's (NPDES) Phase 2 Stormwater Rules issued in 1999 by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The NPES rules are a response to the federal 1987 Clean Water Act amendments. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) accepts the supervisory responsibilities of NPDES rules issued by the EPA within the state of Minnesota.

The MPCA finalized and approved a General Permit, MN R040000, on March 3, 2006 associated with Municipal Separate Stormwater Sewer Systems (MS4). This permit requires the University to develop a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (SWPP) to reduce the discharge of pollutants from the storm sewer systems to the maximum extent practicable. For highlights of the University's SWPPP see Control Measures.

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Involved Parties

The MS4 permit covers the Twin Cities and Duluth campuses. Due to NPDES population criteria, the permit does not currently apply to Crookston and Morris campuses.

The following University departments and divisions implement the program:

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Control Measures

As part of the MS4 permit, the University is required to develop and implement Best Management Practices (BMPs) that include six control measures defined by MPCA. These control measures are:

  1. Public education and outreach
  2. Public participation
  3. Illicit discharge detection and elimination
  4. Construction site stormwater runoff control
  5. Post-construction stormwater management in new development and redevelopment
  6. Pollution prevention/good housekeeping

Public Education and Outreach
The University is required to implement a public education program to distribute educational materials to the community or conduct equivalent outreach activities about the impacts of storm water discharges on water bodies and the steps that the public can take to reduce pollutants in storm water runoff. This site is part of our public education and outreach efforts.

Public Participation
The EPA suggests that the public be given opportunities to play an active role in both the development and implementation of the program. An active and involved community is crucial to the success of a storm water management program because it allows for broader public support and increases community awareness of other pollution prevention measures.

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
Storm water that includes sanitary wastewater, sewage from septic tanks, car wash wastewaters, improper oil disposal, laundry wastewaters, or other matter are considered to have "illicit discharge." The University must ensure that storm water runoff is free of illicit discharge.

Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
When construction is underway, soil is often disturbed, and erosion of the remaining soil is a challenge. Controlling erosion can significantly reduce the amount of sedimentation and other pollutants transported by runoff from construction sites. The University must ensure that erosion control measures are in place at all construction sites.

Post-construction Stormwater Management in New Development and Redevelopment
Special measures for managing storm water in areas undergoing new development or redevelopment are necessary because runoff from these areas has been shown to significantly impact the environment. The University engages in planning and design for the minimization of pollutants in post-construction storm water discharges.

Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping
The University is required to examine and subsequently alter our actions to help ensure a reduction in the amount and type of pollution that: (1) collects on streets, parking lots, open spaces, and storage and vehicle maintenance areas and is discharged into local waterways; and (2) results from actions such as environmentally damaging land development and flood management practices or poor maintenance of storm sewer systems

For more details about each of these measures, see the BMPs submitted as part of the SWPPP.

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Beginning in 2000, the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities put together a Storm Water Task Force to monitor the MPCA permitting process, and to systematically review current University storm water management practices. This task force developed a framework for the development of the University's Storm Water Management Program and its SWPPP. It was not until the summer of 2002 that it was clear that Duluth would also need to be included in the MPCA permitting process.

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities submitted its MS4 permit application, SWPPP and associated BMPs to the MPCA on June, 1, 2006. This permit application will be open for formal public comment some time in 2007.

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