Best management practices are an important tool in helping to protect storm runoff from the campus and, ultimately, the Rouge River.
The University of Michigan - Dearborn's storm water drainage system, when not properly maintained, has the potential to contribute to the pollution of the Rouge River.
Sediment, debris, and litter can enter the system at any time, giving these pollutants access to our surface waters. Not only do foreign materials diminish the quality of the water we drink, they also have the ability to accumulate in the storm water system and cause flooding in local streets and buildings. Proper maintenance of the system is important to prevent clogging, flooding, and surface water pollution during storms.
Maintaining Catch Basins
The major component of the storm water drainage system are catch basins. Catch basins help filter storm water runoff before it enters the system so that sediment and pollutants are not carried into the Rouge River. They must be maintained regularly to ensure effective flood control and pollutant removal.
The University of Michigan - Dearborn campus has a systematic catch basin clean-out schedule that involves a five (5) year cycle to ensure that all catch basins are maintained within the cycle period. The program was initiated in 2014.
Before cleaning outdoors, be aware of the impacts that any dislodged pollutants or cleaning products might have on groundwater and surface waters.
Avoid using acids and other toxic cleaners. Whenever possible, use plain water. Contact EHS with any questions and/or concerns.
Washing With Water
If only water is being used to clean a non-polluted surface, all storm drains must be blocked, or filter fabric or silt sacks must be installed to filter solids from runoff. The fabric or sack must be emptied of collected sediment as needed. It is important to limit sediment from entering catch basins because it can clog lines and lead to localized flooding and high maintenance costs. When work is complete, sediment and other solids that remain on the ground should be cleaned up immediately before they are washed into the storm system.
Washing With Water and Cleaners
- Determine whether or not the job can be completed with the use of plain water.
- If detergents or chemicals are necessary, collect all wash water into appropriate containers.
- Containers must be labeled immediately after waste is added with appropriate contact information and the contents of the container.
- Contact EHS for proper disposal.
When you think about pollutants, food is probably not the first thing that comes to mind. However, if they are not disposed of properly, food and drinks can become storm water pollutants.
For example, soda pop is acidic and has a high biochemical oxygen demand (BOD). Materials high in BOD that enter the storm water drainage system result in lower dissolved oxygen levels in our waterways. Good waste handling practices help protect our water resources and environment.
Permanent Food Service Establishments
Everyday, across the University of Michigan - Dearborn campus, Dining and Catering by Picasso Restaurant Group feed thousands of students, faculty, staff, and visitors. As a result, tons of food wastes are generated annually. To properly dispose of waste, place all solids in the trash; dispose of all liquids to the sanitary sewer; and recycle items such as cardboard, glass, plastic, and metal cans.
Food service equipment washing should be done indoors, so that all wastewater goes to the sanitary sewer. This includes ventilation ducts, which may need periodic maintenance to remove grease and other contaminants. If washing is conducted outside, all wash water must be collected. This includes cleaning trash cans and garbage dumpsters, the periodic cleaning of ventilation hoods, and any other cleaning activity typically provided by contractors.
Grease traps must be properly maintained and cleaned on a regular basis to ensure their effectiveness. Grease storage drums must be properly stored to minimize the potential for spills. Drums should not be placed near docks, parking spaces, or in vehicle lanes where delivery trucks may hit them. If feasible, grease storage drums should be under a roof or other cover so spills or drips are not washed into a storm drain. If a spill occurs during pick-up, contact EHS for assistance.
It is the responsibility of food service staff to make sure all wastewater is properly disposed. Depending on the cleaning products used, the wastewater may be required to be collected as liquid waste. Check the Safety Data Sheets (SDS) of the proposed cleaning products and contact EHS for proper disposal procedures.
The University consists of several buildings and paved open spaces which are primary areas of storm water runoff.
Surrounding vegetation is vital for soaking up the runoff. However, depending on the volume and rate, not all of the water can be prevented from reaching the storm drain. In these cases, the storm water run off can pick up contaminants from the vegetation sites. Obvious contaminants may include leaves, silt, and other types of debris. The not so obvious storm water and groundwater chemical contaminants are also a major concern.
Chemicals that may potentially migrate into our drinking water supplies are pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers. In all cases, storm water runoff containing these chemicals causes problems. Surface runoff of pesticides and herbicides into water bodies changes natural ecosystems by killing or damaging a wide variety of organisms. They often collect and accumulate in the food chain, becoming more harmful than their ambient concentration would suggest. Fertilizer can also disrupt natural biological communities by increasing plant and microbial growth. This condition, known as eutrophication, can drastically change natural water ecosystems and create new pollution conditions.
Improper application of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers may also have an impact on storm water infiltration into groundwater. When these contaminants dissolve in storm water they find their way into the groundwater and then into surface waters, such as ponds, streams, rivers, and lakes. The infiltration of these chemicals may also contaminate soil and deeper groundwater units.
Using Pesticides and Herbicides
The risk of using pesticides and herbicides is greatest when the directions are not followed exactly. Carefully read product labels, which contain information about the persistence and toxicity of the chemical. The words “natural,” “organic,” or “biodegradable” do not guarantee that it is safe. Always choose a “pest-specific” pesticide or herbicide that is designed to kill only the pest causing the damage. Persistence refers to the length of time it takes to break down to one-half its previous concentration (also known as half-life). The half-life should be printed on the product label. Avoid pesticides with half-lives longer than 21 days. In dealing with pesticides and herbicides at home or on the job, develop a plan for use and safety. At work, only certified applicators may use pesticides and herbicides.
Vehicles have the potential for leaking oil and other fluids that are storm water pollutants.
Large vehicles, such as waste removal trucks and street sweepers, especially have the potential of leaking large amounts of fluid. Daily vehicle inspections identify drips early, so they can be fixed before they become big problems.
Commercial Car Washing
Commercial vehicles must be washed at an approved car wash facility where the wastewater is able to go to the sanitary sewer to be treated at the wastewater treatment plant.
The University of Michigan - Dearborn campus fleet vehicles are washed off site at a licensed commercial vehicle washing facility. At present, Magical Touch Car Wash located at 6355 Greenfield Rd, Detroit, MI 48228, is the vendor providing the service.
Residential Car Washing
Washing your car in the driveway or street can generate significant amounts of contaminated runoff in the form of detergents, grease, sediment, and other pollutants. By allowing wash water to drain into the storm system, ditch, or stream,which lead to our main waterways, you are essentially washing these pollutants directly into our drinking water.
Commercial facilities, such as drive-through car washes or “do-it-yourself power washes” empty their wastewater to the sanitary sewer to be treated at the wastewater treatment plant before entering our main waterways . If possible, clean your car at one of these facilities instead of washing it on the street.
If you must wash your vehicle at home, use water only. If this is not feasible, mild detergents may be used as necessary. One way to reduce water pollution is to wash your vehicle on a grassy area where the wastewater will be contained and clean itself as it filters through the ground. This is especially important if there is a lot of mud or dirt on your car, which may collect in and possibly clog storm water lines. Also, by washing on a grassy area, you save not only our water supply, but money as well, since the wastewater will water your lawn.