Washington State University
Environmental Health & Safety Stormwater Management at WSU

What is Stormwater and Why Is It Regulated?

Stormwater is generated when it rains or snows on impervious surfaces such as roads, parking lots, buildings, and other areas where it does not infiltrate the soil.  The stormwater enters storm drains, catch basins, swales, drywells, etc. that discharge to local surface waters (rivers, creeks, lakes, etc.) or groundwater.  The stormwater flushes contaminants such as vehicle fluids, trash, pet waste, fertilizers, pesticides, cleaners, and other pollutants into the local rivers, creeks, lakes, and groundwater without treatment.

The Environmental Protection Agency has determined that stormwater runoff in urban areas is the leading cause of surface water pollution in the United States.  As a result, Federal and State regulations only allow stormwater to be discharged to stormwater systems.Purpose

The University is responsible for planning, operating, monitoring, maintaining, and protecting the stormwater system on our campuses.


The goal of the University’s stormwater management program is to ensure that stormwater generated on University property does not adversely impact surface and ground water. This information is intended to assist the WSU community in understanding how the University’s stormwater system operates, what the law requires, and what you can do to reduce contamination of stormwater.

Illicit Discharges and Hotline Spills

An illicit Discharge is defined as any discharge that is not stormwater, including but not limited to construction site soil erosion, washing vehicles, improper disposal of hazardous materials, trash and garbage, discharges from overwatering lawns, street and sidewalk wash water, and illicit connections such as sanitary sewer lines connected to storm sewer systems.

If you see a spill on campus or observe someone dumping anything, please report it to the Spill Hotline.

If you observe a situation on campus that could likely cause a spill or discharge in the future, please call during regular business hours.  We appreciate your help with identifying problems that may impact the WSU storm sewer systems and surface waters.  Calls can be made anonymously.

Pullman – 509-335-9000

Spokane – 509-368-6699

Department of Ecology Stormwater Discharge Permit

Stormwater at WSU Pullman and Spokane is regulated by the Department of Ecology Eastern Washington Phase II Municipal Stormwater Permit.  The permit requires WSU to properly manage stormwater to minimize surface and groundwater pollution.  The permit also requires each campus to submit and post an Annual Report and Stormwater Management Program Plan annually on our website.  The Annual Report describes the status of implementation of Permit requirements during the reporting period (previous calendar year).  The Stormwater Management Program Plan is a description of program activities for the upcoming calendar year.

What the Public Can Do to Help Minimize Stormwater Pollution

  • Reuse and recycle where possible.
  • Keep pollutants off streets, sidewalks, yards, and parks; encourage your friends and relatives to do the same.
  • Sweep up debris and put it in the trash instead of flushing it into the street with a hose.
  • Apply fertilizers and pesticides per label instructions.
  • Fix faulty irrigation systems and do not overwater lawns.
  • Properly dispose of chemicals, oil, paint, antifreeze, and other toxic materials.
  • Wash vehicles, boats, lawn furniture, ect. on surfaces that seep into the ground or at a commercial car wash.  Do not wash them in the street or in your driveway.
  • Use decorative rock and plants to reduce soil erosion in landscaped areas.
  • Use a drip pan or absorbent materials like kitty litter to clean up spills and dispose of them in the trash.
  • Fix vehicle leaks and service vehicles at an auto repair shop that properly disposes used oil and fluids.
  • Pick up dog waste and properly dispose of it.  Per Washington Administrative Code (WAC) 504-36-020 this is required on all WSU campuses.

Everyone plays a part in improving stormwater quality, and WSU is committed to the development and implementation of stormwater pollution prevention, monitoring, control, and outreach efforts on its campuses.