Stormwater laws influence facilities development, operation

Feb. 09, 2015

April Wefler
[email protected]

UCCS gained additional state funding of around $341,000 to keep up on the maintenance of its stormwater drainage system as part of the UCCS Stormwater Management Program.

The program consists of six elements: public education and outreach, public participation and involvement, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site runoff control, post construction stormwater management and pollution prevention/good housekeeping for municipal operations.

The school aims to maintain a functioning stormwater drainage system and ensure safe state waters by preventing potential pollutants and through responsible growth.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency website, stormwater is defined as precipitation accumulated from rain and snow that does not drain into the ground.

The website stated that “as the runoff flows over land or impervious surfaces … it accumulates debris, chemicals, sediments or other pollutants that could adversely affect water quality if the runoff is discharged untreated.”

By Colorado law, UCCS is not allowed to use its stormwater. The state’s “Developing Your Stormwater Management Plan” explains that the Colorado Water Quality Control Act was created in order to prevent harmful pollutants from entering the water we use.

In a letter to The Scribe, Jim Muniz, physical plant manager for Facilities Services, identified potential pollutants on campus that can include: “trash and litter, fertilizers, pet wastes, construction activities, outdoor materials storage, incidental spills, highly erodible sediments, illicit discharges and/or illegal storm drain dumping.”

“The state’s laws about stormwater are very, very interesting. Every time it rains, we’re required to go and check [the stormwater],” Muniz said in an interview.

He added that checking the stormwater periodically is probably between 15 and 20 percent of his allocated hours.

Gary Reynolds, assistant vice chancellor for Administration, said that UCCS is required to build something in which runoff sediments drop out and then go into the city system without mud or sand. This structure is located behind Summit Village.

Muniz said he has to clean out sediment ponds occasionally and that the money comes from Facilities Services’ operating budget.

In order to dispose of its stormwater, UCCS has created rain gardens, a feature that acts like a flower bed, near the Lane Center and the Academic Office Building.

“We are allowed to have stormwater go through a rain garden, as long as it’s not there for long. We can let it sit and soak for 48 hours, but it needs to be drained off,” Muniz said.

“It’s designed to have the water flow. It’s part of our daily operation to maintain it,” Reynolds added.

The money for the rain gardens comes from the state.

In addition to being mandated by law, Reynolds said that managing the stormwater serves another function.

“It provides water to plants and materials we would otherwise have to irrigate,” he said, adding that this saves the school money.

UCCS is required to provide a Stormwater Management Plan as part of stormwater and erosion control, in which the school submits the plan for approval by the state during construction.