Storm Water

MU has established a variety of procedures to manage storm water and protect the water quality in our streams. Historically, such efforts have focused upon preventing localized flooding. More recently, MU has begun to address issues related to the quality of runoff in addition to the quantity. This page provides information about storm water, describes MU programs and policies to protect storm water, and provides links to storm water resources.


Frequently Asked Questions

What is storm water?
Storm water is runoff that occurs from precipitation events.

What is a watershed?
Think of a watershed as a large bowl. If water is sprayed into a bowl, it will drain to the lowest point in the bowl. A watershed is an area of land such that all runoff drains to a lake or stream at the low point of the land area.

In which watersheds is MU located?
It depends on how large an area we are talking about. On a local scale, MU is located in two watersheds—some runoff goes to the Flat Branch and some goes to Hinkson Creek. On a progressively larger scale, one could say MU lies in the Missouri River watershed, the Mississippi River watershed, or even the Gulf of Mexico watershed since all runoff at MU eventually reaches these bodies of water.

What pollutants are of most concern at MU?
MU's storm water management plan has identified the following pollutants:

  • Petroleum products: The campus has a number of above ground and below ground petroleum storage tanks. Runoff from streets, parking lots, and garages may contain petroleum products leaking from vehicles.
  • Hazardous materials: The campus uses a variety of hazardous materials for teaching, research, and administrative support activities.
  • Pesticides and fertilizer: The campus uses small amounts of pesticides and fertilizers for research and support activities in the College of Agriculture, Foods, and Natural Resources, and the College of Veterinary Medicine. The same is the case for grounds maintenance activities.
  • Sediment: Sediment may be present in runoff from disturbed areas. The most common sources are construction sites and paved surfaces.
  • Historical activities: Runoff from old solid waste management units, such as old dump sites, may contain various types of contaminants depending on the wastes that were managed.
  • Litter: Litter may come from students, faculty, staff, or visitors. Runoff from precipitation events may cause litter to reach streams.

Where does storm water in storm drains go?
Storm drains convey runoff to nearby streams without any treatment whatsoever. None of this water goes through the wastewater treatment plant. As a result, any wastes put down a storm drain on campus will turn up in either the Flat Branch or Hinkson Creek.

What is MU doing about storm water?
MU coordinates storm water activities with the City of Columbia and Boone County to manage storm water. In 2003, the three institutions submitted a joint storm water permit application to the Missouri Department of Natural Resources under Phase II of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). This plan formalized coordination of storm water management activities. A renewal application was submitted in 2007.

MU has established a variety of policies and plans which include storm water considerations. These include the Campus Master Plan, the Campus Design Principles, Storm Sewer Permissible Discharges Guidance Document, and the University of Missouri Design Guidelines.

Environmental Health & Safety is responsible for several programs and projects that protect storm water. These include the hazardous materials management program, development of Spill Prevention Control and Countermeasures (SPCC) Plans for management of oil, and a project to label storm drains with special discs.


Storm Water Resources