Stormwater is water from storm events, either rain or snowmelt, that flows over the ground and enters the nearest surface water body. On campus, 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. Runoff may contain high levels of contaminants such as suspended sediment, nutrients, heavy metals, pathogens, toxins, oxygen-demanding substances and trash. Urban storm water runoff has been identified as a major problem for water quality nationwide.
Storm drains on the Seattle campus and at UW Bothell drain directly into Portage Bay and Lake Washington. Storm drains at UW Tacoma drain directly into the Puyallup River, a salmon corridor. Storm drains marked with the words "DUMP NO WASTE - DRAINS TO LAKE" and a picture of a fish indicate that drainage goes directly into a salmon corridor.
The UW has established Stormwater Management Programs to manage separate storm drainage systems across jurisdictions. The programs are designed and implemented to reduce the discharge of pollutants from the stormwater system to the maximum extent practicable to protect water quality. Students, staff, faculty and the community are welcome to provide suggestions for these programs, as the stormwater plans are updated annually. The Operations and Maintenance Plan details procedures for protecting storm water quality.
Construction projects must minimize storm water pollution. The biggest pollution concerns for construction projects are settleable solids (mainly sediment) and pH. Temporary construction permits should be expected. Depending on the size of the project, permanent storm water detention or treatment may be required.
If you have any comments, suggestions or questions on these programs or stormwater management at the UW, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 206.616.5835.
All wastewater discharged to the sanitary sewer system must comply with local, state and federal standards. Rules are designed to protect surface waters, health and safety in the treatment works, and to maintain the quality of biosolids at wastewater treatment plants.
An industrial wastewater discharge permit was recently issued for the UW. Our permit includes King County local sewer limits and best management practices available to all operations on the Seattle campus that generate wastewater.
The best management practices include chemical waste management under the UW Treatment by Generator Program. Water from these process wastes can be treated and discharged to the sanitary sewer. These activities occur at UW research and academic laboratories, health care facilities, animal care facilities and the medical centers. We have also incorporated best management practices from the King County Local Hazardous Waste Management Program Laboratory Waste Management Guide.
Other permitted discharges are from the following sources:
- Shops and maintenance facilities
- Compost leachate and contaminated stormwater
- Contaminated groundwater from power plant
- Miscellaneous oil/water separators
- Fountain draining and cleaning
- Pressure washing
- Parking lot and roadway sweeping and cleaning
All wastes discharged to the sanitary sewer system must comply with permit limits.
If you are outside King County (Tacoma, Pack Forest and Friday Harbor), you are not allowed to pour any chemicals down the drain without explicit permission. Local sewer limits will vary, depending on the location or activity, and must be approved on a case-by-case basis.
Construction, alterations and maintenance projects may also generate wastewater that must be disposed of properly. Lead, asbestos and other hazardous materials may cause the wash water to exceed and violate sewer discharge limits. If hazardous materials could be in your wash water, you must collect samples and have them tested. If the water violates local sewer discharge limits and cannot be treated, then it must be disposed of as a dangerous waste. Please contact EH&S with questions at 206.616.5835 or email email@example.com.
The Clean Air Act of 1970 gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authority to regulate air pollutants, including the protection of stratospheric ozone. The Washington Department of Ecology and the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency are authorized by the EPA to administer permits, and an Air Operating permit was issued to the UW in 2001.
The University has several air pollutant sources related to research and general campus operations. Our natural gas-powered power plant, which supplies steam, chilled water, compressed air and electricity produces nitrous oxides (NOx) and carbon monoxide (CO). It is a modern gas-fired power plant that uses the latest in pollution control technology, greatly reducing particulate matter concentrations. We also have paint spray booths, a gas station, machine shops and emission sources related to research. These have the potential to emit toxic air pollutants as well as CO, NOx and volatile organic carbon compounds.
Federal regulations direct the use of ozone-depleting substances. Refrigerant gases, widely-used on campus, are categorized as ozone-depleting substances and must be managed accordingly. The UW Facility Services' Refrigeration Shop ensures that all refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners and cooling units on campus are well-maintained. When they are removed from service, any ozone-depleting substances are either recycled or incinerated as waste so they do not destroy stratospheric ozone.
If you use a contractor to work on air conditioning or refrigeration equipment, or if you purchase and install new equipment, please notify the Facilities Services Refrigeration Shop Supervisor at 206.685.8835.
View the Air Operating Permit issued to the UW on the Puget Sound Clean Air Agency website.
More information on ozone-depleting substances can be found on the EPA website.
Polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are toxic and persist in the environment. Before their manufacture was banned in 1979, PCBs were used widely in electrical equipment, including transformers. Many transformers in use still contain traces of PCB-contaminated oil, even after the oil has been changed several times.
It should be assumed that any oil-filled electrical equipment that ever contained PCBs will be regulated. If you are planning a remodel, laboratory move or standard maintenance and alterations, you must have equipment suspected or known to contain PCBs inspected and screened.
Fluorescent light ballasts may contain PCBs and must be managed through EH&S. All ballasts manufactured through 1978 contain PCBs. Newer ballasts may still contain PCBs or the carcinogenic chemical DEHP. For these reasons, all fluorescent light ballasts which are not specifically labeled "No PCBs" are to be managed as dangerous waste.
Leaking PCB ballasts are considered an occupational exposure hazard by skin contact. If the contamination is extensive, call the EH&S Spills Advice line at 206.543.0467. Call 911 if there is an explosion, fire, serious injury or catastrophic leak.
Buildings constructed or renovated between 1950 and the 1970s may have PCBs in the caulk around windows, in weather stripping and in masonry expansion joints. These materials have tested positive for PCBs on campus and around the nation.
Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) oversees PCB management, coordinating sampling and disposal, conducting audits, reviewing work plans and ensuring compliance with the regulations. More information can be found in the EH&S Design Guides.