Environmental Health and Safety
What is stormwater runoff?
Stormwater runoff can be loosely defined as rain that hits the ground and then eventually finds its way to the nearest water body. At Clark College, stormwater falls on buildings, roads, parking lots, sidewalks, loading docks, and landscaped areas. Some of it soaks into the ground, but most of it flows to the nearest storm drain.
Where are the storm drains, and where do they go?
You'll see these storm drains everywhere–along roads, in parking lots, near buildings. Some are round, some are square, and some are long and skinny. All of these drains connect to pipes underground that then carry the water straight (more or less) to the nearest water body.
What are the problems with stormwater runoff?
Urban storm water runoff in general has been identified as a major problem for water quality nationwide. Urbanization alters the infiltration capability of soil. Instead of forests and meadowlands, we now have rooftops, roads, and parking lots with virtually no ability to absorb stormwater. The resulting stormwater flows are higher in volume.
Stormwater also suspends and transports pollutants on those surfaces. It is important that we keep as much of those pollutants out of the storm water as possible. The main concerns on campus are oil, sediment, nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen), heavy metals, toxic chemicals and garbage.
What can I do?
Here is a list of things that you can do to minimize your impact on stormwater while on campus (or anywhere you are):
- do not litter (even cigarette butts)
- do not dump any chemicals down a storm drain–"nothing but rain"
- ensure that your car does not leak oil or gasoline (or consider alternatives to driving)
How do I report a spill?
If you see a spill on campus and it looks like it will reach a storm drain, call (360) 992-2336 during business hours. If you see the spill after hours, call (360) 992-2133 to report the spill.
If you see a situation on campus that could likely cause a spill in the future, call EHS at (360) 992-2965 during business hours. EHS appreciates any help with identifying problems, and your call can be anonymous.
Outdoor Cleaning Projects
Some maintenance and cleaning projects generate waste water. These projects include masonry restoration, building pressure washing and painting with latex paint.
This waste water may under no circumstance be allowed to go to a storm drain. Only water may go down the storm drain. Even "biodegradeable" cleaners are not allowed. Excessive sediment should also not be washed into the storm drain. The storm drain delivers water and any pollutants straight to the nearest water body. In most locations, you would essentially sending water straight to the river.
The waste water must instead be collected and either discharged to sanitary sewer or disposed of as hazardous waste.
Waste water with toxic cleaning agents may have to be disposed of as hazardous waste. Corrosive cleaners, such as those used on masonry, will have to be neutralized first. High loads of suspended sediment are also not allowed to sanitary sewer.
Stormwater Management Program
Clark College has a Stormwater Management Plan for the main campus. Students, staff, faculty and the community are welcome to provide input about the plan, which is designed to protect stormwater quality. The plan is updated annually.
Contact Rebecca Benson with specific inquiries