Spotting and Reporting Illicit Discharge on Campus
Tuesday, March 15, 2022 - 14:35
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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

Evidence of an illicit discharge on campus

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

All Sustainability News

The Office of Sustainability is updating its climate action plan (CAP), which will focus on reducing the University’s greenhouse gas emissions and preparing for a changing climate. The Climate Action Intern will be an integral part of the team developing content for the Twin Cities’ CAP and will work with full-time staff, other student staff, and participants in the process. The Intern will support working groups by researching best practices, collecting and visualizing data, and providing general support as working groups identify and evaluate potential strategies for inclusion in the plan.

This position has multiple openings and is open to undergraduate and graduate students. To learn more, search job ID 351579 at

Join us for the All Campus Sustainability Fall Kickoff, a systemwide University of Minnesota event on October 29th on the Twin Cities campus.  

The All Campus Sustainability Fall Kickoff is hosted in partnership by the Institute on the Environment's Sustainability Education Team and the Office of Sustainability. The event will take place on Saturday, October 29th, 2022 on the Twin Cities campus and will connect sustainability-minded individuals from all 5 University of Minnesota campuses for a day of learning and connection. This is a great opportunity to meet fellow students from across the system and learn more about sustainability on the Twin Cities campus.

Visit the Twin Cities campus to get a behind the scenes look at how the campus operates sustainably! Activities will include attending a Gopher football game, going on a Zero Waste tour of Huntington Bank Stadium and learning about how sustainability can be incorporated into sporting events, taking a closer look at local food systems and how we can feed our community sustainably, touring a local organic farm, and more.

The event is expected to last all day, depending on the time of football kickoff (TBD). All expenses including lodging (if applicable) will be provided.

If you are interested in participating, please fill out this application form.

We're hiring! Join the Office of Sustainability as a Student Communications AssistantLearn more >

Office of Sustainability. We're hiring Director of Sustainability at the Twin Cities campus. Job ID 349298

We're hiring! Join the Office of Sustainability as Director of Sustainability for the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus. Learn more >

Departments, units, and student groups across campus are offering events for Earth Month! Check out the list:

The University of Minnesota Office of Sustainability and the Twin Cities Sustainability Committee invite you to the Climate Action Planning Town Hall, Wednesday, May 4th, 2022, 4-5:30pm at the CMU Theater. Hear from a panel of University sustainability staff, committee members, and experts, and submit questions for a Q&A. More info  Add to Google Calendar
Event recording:

In 2021, the University of Minnesota achieved over 8 million kilowatt hours in electricity savings, exceeding the goal it set in partnership with Xcel Energy! That’s enough electricity to power 880 average Minnesota homes for a year and avoid 5 million pounds of CO2 emissions. Read more >

"Illicit discharges are considered 'illicit' because MS4s are not designed to accept, process, or discharge such non-stormwater wastes." (EPA) As water runs down the street into storm drains, contaminated with illicit discharge (such as cigarette butts, trash, salt, vehicle fluids, or yard waste) from the street, it flows back down through the stormwater system and back into the river. Learn how you can help or report illicit discharge on campus.

Do you know an undergraduate, graduate student, or student group on any University of Minnesota campus that has made significant contributions to creating a more sustainable future? The University of Minnesota Institute on the Environment and the Office of Sustainability invite nominations for the inaugural systemwide Student Impact Awards, honoring undergraduate and graduate student efforts to lead the way toward a future in which people and the environment prosper together. Nominations are due Wednesday, April 6th, 2022. Learn more

The University of Minnesota is hiring a Sustainability Project Manager! This position is responsible for managing projects and related work that advance sustainability and climate change initiatives at the University of Minnesota. For more information and to apply, search Job ID 345498 on the University's job search website.