Storm Water Management / MS4 Program

The University stormwater systems on the Fredericksburg and Stafford campuses are operated in accordance with permitting requirements of the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality. Both campuses are within the Rappahannock River watershed, which in turn is contributory to the Chesapeake Bay.

What is stormwater runoff?

Stormwater runoff is the rain and melting snow that originates from 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 from a single point location. This makes preventing contamination more difficult as well as more important.

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 may 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 stormwater. 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. Stormwater usually receives no treatment before entering local waterways.

Why is it important to manage stormwater runoff?

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