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UW Oshkosh Storm Water Management Information

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Learn more about the University’s storm water management plans, general information on storm water related issues and storm water pollution prevention guidelines. The goal of the University’s storm water management program is to ensure that storm water generated on University property does not adversely impact the natural environment.

Note: To report a storm water related issue, contact JoAnn Rife at (920) 424-2438 or


Storm Water Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is storm water?
    • Storm water is rain water that runs off of roofs, roads and yards. Stormwater frequently carries pollution such as trash, animal droppings, and automobile fluids. This water is carried in ditches and pipes and is discharged, untreated, directly to creeks and rivers. Stormwater at UW Oshkosh is regulated by the NPDES program.
  • What is NPDES?
  • What is an illicit discharge?
    • An illicit discharge is any discharge to the UW Oshkosh stormwater system that is not comprised of runoff from precipitation (rainfall or snowfall) events. Examples of illicit discharges are wash water from clothes washing, vehicle and equipment wash water, improper disposal of paint brush rinse water, sanitary sewage, and mop rinse water.
  • What is a BMP?
    • A BMP is a best management practice for managing or treating stormwater runoff. BMPs can be structural, such as a constructed wetland or porous pavement parking lot, or non-structural. Examples of non-structural BMPs include properly disposing of used oil and paint, converting land cover types to increase the capture of runoff, application of fertilizers only when the need is indicated by soil testing, and proper disposal of pet waste.

Storm Water Definitions

Best Management Practices (BMPs): management practices and procedures used to prevent or reduce the pollution of surface waters.

Clean Water Act: established in 1972, the act prohibited the discharge of any pollutant from a point source without a NPDES permit. Also known as the Federal Water Pollution Control Act.

Discharge: a measure of the amount of water flow at a particular point, e.g. the flow of water in a stream or in a pipe.

Ecosystem: all of the plants and animals in an area that interact to make up the local environment.

Erosion: the overall process of the transport of material on the earth’s surface including the movement of soil and rock by agents such as water, wind, or gravity.

Groundwater: all of the water contained in void space beneath the earth’s surface.

Illicit Discharge: any discharge to a municipal separate storm sewer or stormwater conveyane that is not entirely composed of stormwater. Illicit discharges should be reported immediately to OEHS at 982-4911.

Large Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (Large MS4): all municipal separate storm sewers that are located in an incorporated place with a population of 250,000 or more according to the latest Census.

Maximum Extent Practicable (MEP): a water quality standard that applies to all MS4 operators under NPDES permits. The standard has no exact definition, as it was intended to be flexible to allow operators to tailor their stormwater programs to their particular site.

Medium Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (Medium MS4): all municipal separate storm sewers that are located in an incorporated place with a population of more than 100,000 but less than 250,000.

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer: a conveyance or conveyance system including roads with drainage systems, municipal streets, curbs, gutters, and storm drains.

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4): all separate storm sewers that are defined as “large,” “medium,” or “small.”

Non-Point Source Pollutants (NPS): pollution coming from many diffuse sources whose origin is often difficult to identify. This pollution occurs as rain or snowmelt travels over the land surface and picks up pollutants such as fertilizer, pesticides, and chemicals from cars. This pollution is difficult to regulate due to its origin from many different sources. These pollutants enter waterways untreated and are a major threat to aquatic organisms and people who fish or use waterways for recreational purposes.

National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Standards (NPDES): the EPA’s regulatory program to control the discharge of pollutants to waters of the United States.

Outfall: the point where a sewer or drainage discharges into a receiving waterway.

Point Source Pollution: pollution coming from a single, definable source, such as a factory.

Runoff: any drainage that leaves an area as surface flow.

Sanitary Sewer: an underground pipe system that carries sanitary waste and other wastewater to a treatment plant.

Sediment: material derived from the weathering of rock such as sand and soil. This material can be detrimental to aquatic life and habitats if too much is allowed to wash into rivers and ponds.

Site plan: a geographic representation of the layout of buildings and other important features on a tract of land.

Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (Small MS4): any municipal separate storm sewer that is not defined as being “large” or “medium.” UVA’s municipal separate storm sewer falls into this category.

Storm Drain: any drain which drains directly into the storm sewer system, usually found along roadways or in parking lots. Drains can be easily clogged by debris such as leaves and litter, creating street flooding problems.

Storm Sewer: an underground pipe system that carries runoff from streets and other surfaces and discharges directly to a stream or river without any form of pretreatment. Because storm sewer water is not treated, it is important for institutions such as the University to develop SWPPP plans to ensure stormwater from the facilities are not adversely impacting the waterways into which the sewer discharges.

Stormwater: stormwater or snow melt runoff, and surface runoff and drainage.

Stormwater Management: anything associated with the planning, maintenance, and regulation of facilities which collect, store, or convey stormwater.

Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP): a plan required for any industrial facility that discharges stormwater. The SWPPP identifies potential pollutant sources and describes practices that will be implemented to prevent or control pollutant releases to storm water discharges.

Surface runoff: the flow of water across the land surface that occurs when the rainfall rate exceeds the ability of the soil to absorb the water. Also occurs on impervious surfaces, such as parking lots, where water cannot infiltrate at all.

Surface Water: any water that remains on the earth’s surface, such as ponds, rivers, streams, impoundments, wetlands, oceans, etc.

Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL): a regulatory limit of the greatest amount of pollutants that can be released into a body of water without adversely affecting water quality.

Tributary: a stream which drains into another larger stream or body of water.

Watershed: a geographic area in which water flowing across the surface will drain into a certain stream or river and flow out of the area via that stream or river. All of the land that drains to a particular body of water. Also known as a catchment or drainage basin).

Wetlands: an area of land where part of the surface is covered with water or the soil is completely saturated with water for a large majority of the year. Wetlands provide an important habitat for many different types of plant and animal species. Wetlands are also natural stormwater control areas, since they filter out pollutants and are able to retain large amounts of water during storm events.


BMPs: Best Management Practices

CWA: Clean Water Act

DCR: Department of Conservation and Recreation

DEQ: Department of Environmental Quality (Virginia Office)

EPA: Environmental Protection Agency

OEHS: Office of Environmental Health and Safety

FM: Facilities Management (Department of)

MEP: Maximum Extent Practicable (Possible)

MS4: Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System

NPS: Non-Point Source Pollutants

NPDES: National Pollution Discharge Elimination Standards

SWPPP: Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan

TMDL: Total Maximum Daily Load

UVA: University of Virginia

VPDES: Virginia Pollutant Discharge Elimination System

VSMP: Virginia Stormwater Management Program

Conclusions and Recommendations

The main goals of this plan are to provide a guide to meet storm water regulations for the current state of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh campus as well as proposed growth.  The regulations that will be of concern for the UW Oshkosh campus are NR 116, NR 151, and NR 216.

NR 116 governs future development in floodplain areas.

NR 151 governs storm water requirements for future building projects including reconstruction projects and new development.

NR 216 requires the UW Oshkosh campus to obtain a WPDES permit which requires that criteria be met in six categories:

  • Public Education and Outreach
  • Public Involvement and Participation
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Construction Site Pollution Control
  • Post-Construction Storm water Management
  • Pollution Prevention

In order to meet the requirements of NR 151, new building projects will be required to have storm water management efforts that remove TSS and in some instances reduce peak flow rates.  To the above requirements, it is recommended that biofilters/bioretention devices, rain gardens, or other proprietary devices be used in close proximity to the construction project to help meet NR 216 requirements.

In order to meet NR 216 requirements, programs that incorporate public educations and outreach, public involvement and participation, and illicit discharge detection and elimination will need to be implemented.

The most intensive area of NR 216 to meet will be the need to ultimately reduce TSS runoff by 40 percent on an average annual basis by the year 2013.

In order to meet these requirements, the following recommendations have been made:

  • Construction of bio-filters throughout existing parking lots, sidewalk areas and roofs.
  • Construction of drainages swales with native vegetation to route drainage instead of having direct connections to storm sewer from impervious surfaces.

Because of the large areas of green space, the most cost effective BMP’s  would be biofilters/bioretention devices, rain gardens and drainage swales to treat water  instead of ponds, porous pavements, and proprietary devices to meet the 20 percent and 40 percent TSS removal requirements. However, these BMP’s may be a viable option for future development governed by NR 151 requirements.

Storm Water Management Plan Maps

Source Loading and Management Model (WinSLAMM)

The storm water pollution modeling evaluation conducted for the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh followed the guidelines provided by the WDNR for compliance with the MS4 permit.

As a result of this evaluation, the following conclusions are made:

  1. Accounting for all of the existing management measures, UW Oshkosh is currently reducing its pollution load by 1.1 tons per year (7.9 percent). Therefore, the University has not met the TSS reduction requirements of their MS4 Permit for neither the 2008 goal (20 percent) nor the 2013 goal (40 percent).
  2. Since both the 20 percent and the 40 percent TSS removal goals have not been met, additional best management practices are necessary for UW Oshkosh to gain MS4 compliance. Proposed BMPs include the removal of three existing parking lots as well as new bio-filter design and construction to treat 10.3 acres of existing parking lots.
  3. After construction of the proposed BMP’s takes place, the campus would be at 28 percent TSS control level. It will still need to reduce sediment loading by 1.9 tons/year. An alternative to the campus constructing more BMP’s to further reduce the annual sediment loading may be for the campus to work cooperatively with the City of Oshkosh. Section 2.10 of the MS4 permit allows for intergovernmental cooperation to perform one or more of the conditions in the permit. It may be more feasible to achieve the UW Oshkosh pollution control requirements on various locations throughout the city. This approach would likely require long-term agreements between UW Oshkosh and the  city to define the roles and responsibilities of each party.
  4. The University of Wisconsin Oshkosh should review these results with the WDNR to finalize their MS4 permit compliance for the TSS reduction requirements.

Storm Water Pollution Prevention Fact Sheet

Work practices which include the proper use, storage, clean-up of spills and disposal of hazardous materials will prevent contaminants from entering campus storm water drains and protect the environment.

Why be concerned about storm water pollution prevention?

Storm water that flows off buildings, walkways and streets into storm drains ultimately flows to the Fox River. Unlike water that goes to the sanitary sewer system (most indoor drains), storm water is not treated or filtered before it is discharged to the ocean. Polluted runoff can have harmful effects on wildlife and the recreational uses of streams, creeks and beaches. It is important to keep storm water runoff clean.

What types of pollutants contaminate storm water runoff?

Some common contaminates include: motor oil, pesticides, pet waste, paint, household chemicals, trash and construction debris. Rainwater comes in contact with these contaminates and washes them into the storm drain system. In addition, improper disposal of substances into the storm drain system, such as food waste, paint waste, construction material, oil, antifreeze and landscaping chemicals also cause contamination of storm water runoff.

What can be done to prevent storm water pollution?

  • Don’t dump waste into storm water drains or areas that drain to storm drains
  • Maintain good housekeeping, dispose of waste properly in trash cans or dumpsters
  • Collect and properly dispose of wash water to the sanitary sewer or landscaped areas, not to storm drains
  • When cleaning outside areas dry sweep or vacuum instead of washing down to storm drains
  • Clean up spills quickly and properly, never hose spills to the gutter
  • Maintain trash and dumpster areas to prevent materials from being washed into storm drains
  • Maintain chemical storage areas, chemicals stored outside should be covered and have secondary containment
  • Maintain spill clean-up kits in all chemical storage areas
  • Perform vehicle maintenance only in approved areas
  • Maintain vehicles and other equipment in order to prevent fluid leaks

In summary, only clean rainwater (with the exception of some permitted discharges) can be discharged to a storm drain. All work, construction, cleaning and other activities conducted outdoors must be carried out in a way that prevents wastewater and contamination such as trash, debris, dirt, construction materials and hazardous materials from entering storm drain systems.

What if there is a spill of hazardous materials?

In the event of a hazardous materials spill on campus, contact the UW Oshosh Facilities Management Department at (920) 424-3466. If unable to reach help at this number, contact the University Police at (920) 424-1212. If it is safe to do so, try to prevent spilled hazardous materials from entering storm drains.

How are hazardous materials disposed?

All hazardous materials waste generated from campus operations must be disposed of through the campus Hazardous Waste Program administered by the UW Oshosh Facilities Management Department.

Related Links

We are located in the Campus Services Center across the Fox River from the Oshkosh campus. The facility is the second building on the right hand side of Witzel Avenue.

7 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. Staff availability may vary, please call ahead.

650 Witzel Ave.
Oshkosh, WI 54902

Phone: (920) 424-3466

Fax: (920) 424-0259