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Storm Water Management

Rock River WatershedMore than two hundred municipalities in Wisconsin (cities, villages, towns, and counties) within urbanized areas are required to have Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permits under NR 216, Wis. Adm. Code.  UW-Whitewater must adhere to this requirement as a campus since we serve a population that exceeds 10,000 people (based on overall enrollment figures). Large areas of impervious surfaces (parking lots, buildings, and sidewalks) and discharge storm water into Whitewater Creek, which is part of the Rock River watershed.  The MS4 permits require UW-Whitewater and other affected entities to reduce polluted storm water runoff by implementing storm water management programs with best management practices.  Storm water management programs cover a wide array of activities.

Public Education and Outreach

To help facilitate public education, outreach, involvement, and participation requirements of the MS4 permit, the Rock River Stormwater Group was formed as a coalition of municipalities and UW-Whitewater, with advising from Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR) representatives. 

UW-Whitewater is a significant contributor to the overall stormwater education program in several ways. Most notably, the RRSG engaged Creative Marketing Unlimited (CMU), a student-run marketing consulting firm to manage the outreach and education efforts on behalf of the group. CMU established the Protect Wisconsin Waterways initiative and branding as a way to communicate to the general public, public employees, residents, businesses, contractors, developers, industries, and/or other appropriate audiences best practices related to storm water management. 

For details on activities related to Protect Wisconsin Waterways, you can review a recent report or annual work plan, visit our website, sign up for our newsletter, and follow us on social media ( Facebook - Twitter - Instagram - YouTube)!

Public Involvement and Participation

UW-Whitewater has a storm water management program that includes a map of existing stormwater inlets, routes, and outfalls.

The UW-Whitewater Sustainability Office engages in several volunteer activities intended to positively impact local waterways. Most notably, we collaborate with the Rock River Coalition to participate in the Water Action Volunteers stream monitoring program and regularly engage students, staff, and community members in monitoring three creeks in the Whitewater area, including nearby Whitewater Creek that is directly impacted by our storm water runoff. Data is reported to the WDNR's SWIMS Database for our monitoring locations at Whitewater Creek, Bluff Creek, and Spring Brook Creek.

Additionally, the Sustainability Office coordinates litter cleanup volunteer events throughout the academic year, particularly focused on spring and following major student and sporting events, to help keep trash and other contaminants from entering storm drains on campus and in the local community where most off-campus student housing is located. Some cleanup events also include actually entering Whitewater Creek itself and picking up litter that is found on the stream banks or actually in the stream bed or other snags in the creek itself. Volunteers from the student body and local community are recruited to participate in these events, which are featured on our Volunteer page as they are scheduled.

Various sustainability-themed tours are offered through UW-Whitewater Continuing Education's Garden and Landscape Tours. This tour features information about how native plants are used throughout the landscape to help encourage infiltration of storm water before it enters storm drains across campus. Similar information is presented to sustainability-themed tours and presentations offered to numerous academic classes and community groups upon request. To schedule a tour for your class or group, please contact the Sustainability Director.

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

The Sustainability Office performs inspections of our primary outfall on a routine basis as part of our stream monitoring activities during the months of March through October. The dedicated stormwater outfall that deposits stormwater collected from the northern third of campus is located near Ray Trost Nature Preserve. Interns trained in illicit discharge monitoring observe the outfall for unusual odors, colors, discharges, blockages, and other unusual impacts that might impair the flow of water from this outfall or introduce pollutants into Whitewater Creek that originated on campus. Members of the public that notice any contamination or unusual observations at this outfall and any other outfalls that deposit directly into Whitewater Creek are encouraged to contact us to report problems promptly.