The University storm water systems on the Fredericksburg and Stafford campuses are operated in accordance with permitting requirements of the Department of Conservation and Recreation. Both campuses are within the Rappahannock River watershed, which in turn is a contributory to the Chesapeake Bay.

What is storm water runoff?

Storm water runoff can affect the quantity and quality of water that must be handled somewhere downstream. Excess runoff can contribute to flooding. Contaminated runoff can damage water, making it unfit for human consumption and wildlife habitat. Both situations can be costly to correct. Prevention is more effective and efficient.

Storm water runoff is the rain and melting snow that flows off streets, rooftops, lawns, parking lots, open fields, and any other exposed area. The runoff carries with it whatever can be dislodged from the various sites, such as salt, soil, leaves, pesticides, fertilizers, oil, gasoline, and any other materials present on the surface. These materials are washed off a wide geographic area rather than originating from one point. That makes preventing contamination more important as well as more difficult.

As land is developed, much of the surface is paved or roofed, creating more runoff potential. Usually, storm sewers are used to carry the resulting runoff to nearby waterways. The water from developed areas often contains contaminants. Even on lawns or other open areas, water that is not absorbed can runoff into the street or parking lot and then into the storm sewers.

Storm sewers are a system of underground pipes that have surface drains or inlets designed to gather storm water. Many people think that storm-sewer water is treated in a sewage treatment plant just like water from sanitary sewers. But in most communities, that is not the case. Storm water usually receives no treatment before entering local waterways.

What you can do to protect water quality:


  • Be observant of streams and storm water systems
  • Avoid allowing pet waste to be dumped or washed into the storm sewer. Properly bury or flush the waste down a toilet into the sanitary sewer system for treatment
  • Wash vehicles at a commercial car wash or on a non-paved surface to avoid drainage to the storm sewer
  • Keep vehicles in good condition. Repair leaks in oil and fluid systems
  • Report improper disposal into storm drains or detention basins
  • Dispose of solvents, chemicals and other hazardous wastes in accordance with approved methods (Contact the University’s Office of Environmental Health & Safety)


  • Pour hazardous wastes onto the ground or into storm water system inlets or devices
  • Ignore the improper actions of others
  • Dispose of leaves or grass clippings into storm inlets or basins
  • Perform vehicle maintenance in parking lots
  • Leave or throw trash on the ground – this may clog storm inlets and cause flooding or other problems

How to report a problem:

  • Call Facilites Services – 654-1047 (Contact University Police during non-business hours – 654-1025)
  • Send an e-mail to Facilities Services
  • Write to: University of Mary Washington, 1301 College Ave., Fredericksburg, VA, 22401, ATTN: Facilities Services
  • Be sure to include as much specific information as possible, e.g. time and date, place, description, etc.