Decals, education part of campus storm water awareness program


Don’t be a drain on the environment.

That’s the message of a storm water runoff education and management program at the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH) that aims to raise consciousness among the university community to prevent discharge of materials into storm drains, where they then run off into the UAH lake and streams.

One phase of the six-part program involves installation of attention-getting decals at campus storm water drains. The bright decals are designed to notify people that any material entering those points drains directly to natural water sources. Campus waterways eventually drain into the Tennessee River.

"There are no filters on storm drains. We are the filter," says Taylor Myers, UAH sustainability coordinator. "It is up to us to make sure our creeks, rivers, ponds and lakes stay clean."

Another phase is educational, using a poster and information on the UAH Stormwater website to heighten awareness of the problems caused by careless disposal.

"When debris, silt, oils, solvents, chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and other hazardous fluids enter through surface run-off, they accumulate in our ground water, creeks, rivers, lakes and oceans," Myers says. "Over time, this accumulation can alter and harm aquatic ecology and increase the costs associated with filtering and purifying these waters for human consumption and use."

The educational materials urge people to help keep ponds, creeks and rivers clean.

  • Never dump anything directly into a storm drain.
  • Never throw anything down a storm drain.
  • Dumping into storm drains is not just wrong. It is illegal.
  • Keep work areas clean; sweep up litter and debris.
  • Keep oils, solvents, chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers and other hazardous fluids under cover and away from the street and storm drains.
  • Cover storage containers and dumpsters; clean them regularly.
  • Never discharge wastewater to the ground or storm drains.
  • Wash vehicles or equipment on the lawn or in wash bays and never wash off detergents, oils and greases into streets or storm drains.
  • Spills are required by law to be reported, so report any chemical spill to the appropriate agency.

As part of this effort, UAH’s Sustainability Program is hosting a water monitoring workshop by Alabama Water Watch on campus April 7. Participants will be trained and certified in testing local waterways for bacterial pollutants.

UAH’s efforts are required as part of the storm water permitting process by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), according to Kristy Olive, chemical hygiene officer with the UAH Department of Environmental Health and Safety.

Six minimum control measures are outlined, including public education and outreach; public involvement and participation; illicit discharge detection and elimination (IDDE); construction site storm water runoff control; post-construction storm water management in new development and redevelopment; and pollution prevention and good housekeeping.


Taylor Myers

Jim Steele