Spotting and Reporting Illicit Discharge on Campus
The Water Cycle at the University of Minnesota- Click to enlarge image
Click to enlarge image

What is stormwater? 

"Stormwater runoff is generated from rain and snowmelt events that flow over land or impervious surfaces, such as paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops, and does not soak into the ground. The runoff picks up pollutants like trash, chemicals, oils, and dirt/sediment that can harm our rivers, streams, lakes, and coastal waters. To protect these resources, communities, construction companies, industries, and others, use stormwater controls, known as best management practices (BMPs). These BMPs filter out pollutants and/or prevent pollution by controlling it at its source." (EPA)

What is illicit discharge?

"Federal regulations define an illicit discharge as '...any discharge to an MS4 that is not composed entirely of stormwater...' with some exceptions." These exceptions include discharges from water-line flushing, landscape irrigation, air conditioning condensate, and discharges from fire-fighting activities. Illicit discharges are considered 'illicit' because "MS4s are not designed to accept, process, or discharge such non-stormwater wastes." (EPA)

As water runs across landscapes and streets into storm drains, it picks up and carries away pollutants such as cigarette butts, trash, salt, vehicle fluids, or yard waste. This contaminated, untreated water eventually makes its way into the Mississippi River where it reduces water quality and clarity and can cause harm to fish and wildlife. Considering our campus' location right along the banks of the Mississippi River, it is essential that we take care of this critical shared resource. 

The University of Minnesota's commitment to addressing storm water runoff from campus, as detailed in the campus-specific Storm Water Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP), is to reduce pollutants to the maximum extent practicable.

How can I help?

Remember – only stormwater down the drain. No dumping of harmful materials such paint waste and auto and household chemicals. In daily life and around campus, you can help by picking up trash and pet waste and avoid use of pollutants like ice melt or salt. If you observe an illicit discharge on campus, please report those findings to the University Health & Safety On-Call Program: [email protected] or 612-626-6004 (24-hr Line)

Click to see the EPA's list of illicit discharges

Stormwater illicit discharge
Evidence of an illicit discharge on campus

Learn more about the University of Minnesota's Stormwater Program!

All Sustainability News

Join our speaker from the Great Plains Institute, Aaron Backs, to learn more about all things energy efficiency!

Register now!

The U.S. energy transition is arriving faster than you think. But the move toward solar is global: a recent study from Nature expects solar to be the cheapest source of electricity in almost all countries by 2027. Along with its arrival, clean energy prices are expected to become cheaper than fossil fuel options. 

Read more

Trees are showing their spectacular fall colors across Minnesota. This year, the changing leaves have come early due to the stresses of ongoing drought. Drought, flooding and higher temperatures associated with climate change are all factors prompting University of Minnesota experts to think about the future of our forests.

Extension Educator Angela Gupta answers questions about the future of MN forests Read More

A new variety of apple has been released by the University of Minnesota apple breeding program. Named Kudos, this new apple will be available to the public in coming years. 

Read more about the new Kudos apple here

Join our speakers from Drive Electric MN, Alejandro Nakpil and Moaz Uddin, to talk about the benefits of EVs, the current market, and climate impacts. Learn more and Register!

The Office of Sustainability's Living Laboratory program is BACK! Living Labs seek to transform otherwise unused space on campus into opportunities to learn, research, and innovate sustainability on campus. Applications are now open to students, staff, and faculty. Learn more and apply here.

U-Spatial has awarded prizes in nine categories, including a Grand Prize of $1000 to Andrew Hallberg's StoryMap, "Stop the Thud!".

A graduate student in Conservation Sciences, Andrew has created an interactive map tracking bird-building collisions at the UMN Twin Cities campus through "Stop the Thud!", a citizen science based recording system.

Check out Andrew's story map for more information and data and look for Stop the Thud! signs around campus to help continue this project!

Employee U Cards are now Employee Transit Passes (ETPs)! All Twin Cities benefits-eligible faculty and staff will receive unlimited access to all transit systems in the Twin Cities metro area! 

Learn more

The University of Minnesota Twin Cities' new Climate Action Plan (CAP) looks toward the future of sustainability on campus. The U of M has already cut its greenhouse gas emissions by more than 51%, No. 2 in the Big Ten for carbon cuts. 

Learn more about how the U of M is creating a sustainable campus and future!

A new sustainability club on the Twin Cities campus, UMN Seedlings, collaborated with M Food Co. to put on a sustainable lunch event this past April. Using HowGood, a food sustainability database, UMN Seedlings were able to create an environmentally friendly meal plan aimed to raise environmental awareness in the campus community. Learn more