Water Quality

Effective: Moved to Policy Library from UPM 12.12(13), UPM 12.12(14), UPM 12.12(15), UPM 12.12(16)
Reviewed: March 2022
Contact: Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S)


The protection of water quality is the responsibility of all Iowa State University personnel. Environmental Health and Safety ensures water quality protection by administering the following plans, permits, and programs:

  • ISU Spill Prevention, Control and Countermeasure (SPCC) Plan
  • Aboveground Storage Tank (AST) and Underground Storage Tank (UST) programs
  • ISU Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit #2
  • National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Non-domestic Wastewater Program and accompanying Industrial Pretreatment Agreements

The SPCC Plan regulates the storage of petroleum, vegetable, and animal based oils, fluids and solids or semi-solids that if released could contaminate water. Requirements of the plan include conducting campus inventories of regulated materials, providing containment where there is the possibility of release, and periodic inspections of regulated material containers.

The AST and UST programs regulate the storage of materials that if released could contaminate soil and surface or sub-surface waters. Requirements of the programs include registration and periodic inspection or integrity testing of tanks.

The MS4 Permit and the NPDES General Permit #2 regulate the discharge of pollutants through the storm sewer system. Requirements of the MS4 Permit and Permit #2 include permitting of sites where soil is disturbed, periodic inspection of permitted sites and the general campus, and implementation of best management practices to prevent the migration of soil and other pollutants to the stormwater system, which empty into rivers and streams.

The NPDES Non-domestic Wastewater Program regulates the discharge of pollutants to the sanitary sewer system. Requirements include the development of Pretreatment Agreements for portions of campus that discharge sanitary sewer wastes to the City of Ames system, and prohibitions from discharging chemical wastes or large volumes of non-sanitary wastes.

Applicable Terms

Sanitary wastes: Domestic sewage from human biological functions.

Pollutant in stormwater: Anything other than precipitation that discharges to the stormwater system, including, but not limited to: soil, chemicals, concrete wash down, soaps, oil, road salt, vegetation, potable water, etc.

Pollutant in non-domestic wastewater: Anything other than normal sanitary wastes, including, but not limited to: chemicals, animal wastes, excessive temperatures, food waste, oils, greases, and storm or ground water infiltration.

Stormwater: Precipitation in any form.

Policy Statement

General Duty

University personnel are required to adhere to federal, state and local water quality regulations set forth in the ISU SPCC Plan, AST and UST programs, MS4 Permit and NPDES General Permit #2, NPDES Non-domestic Wastewater Program and accompanying Industrial Pretreatment Agreements, and all other water quality programs and policies.

Discharge of Pollutants

Unless authorized, university personnel are prohibited from discharging-or allowing or causing to be discharged-pollutants to the land, surfaces, waters, and sanitary or stormwater systems of Iowa State University.

Duty to Report

University personnel are required to report any discharge, spill, or release of pollutants immediately to Environmental Health and Safety or ISU Police.