Office of Drain Commissioner

Storm Water Education

Water moves continuously over, above, and below the surface of the Earth in both predictable and unpredictable ways. Humans must continuously balance water quantity and quality challenges in order to live productive, comfortable, safe, and healthy lives. Storm water education helps to provide the understanding and momentum to plan for the predictable range of rainfall events.

Over the last 50 years, it has become uncomfortably clear that transferring storm runoff away from developed areas too quickly: 1) damages downstream storm water systems, 2) pollutes the water, and 3) ruins the natural aquatic habitat. Reversing the effects of these damages is costly. Preparing a comprehensive approach to avoiding these damages is much more economical but involves a greater level of commitment. Responsibility for designing a comprehensive approach begins with recognition that from this point forward, it will be necessary to find more effective ways to manage runoff at its source. This means that more land will need to be dedicated for storm water management and individuals will need to take more responsibility for overseeing their storm water systems throughout the watershed. Local recognition and response to these challenges early on will yield local benefits in lower system costs, better water quality and increased property values.

Michigan has developed a set of development techniques that developers can choose from to better manage runoff at its source. These are called Low Impact Development (LID) Best Management Practices (BMPs). These practices infiltrate, filter, store, evaporate, and detain storm water runoff. Designs can be customized according to local regulatory and resource protection requirements, as well as site constraints. LID practices offer additional benefits. They can be integrated into the existing infrastructure and are often more cost effective and aesthetically pleasing than traditional, structural storm water conveyance systems. See The Low Impact Development for Michigan manual.

A power point introduction to storm water education which illustrates the basic LID practices is: "Clean Water is Everybody's Business"

The Center for Watershed Protection is a good source of general storm water education material.

Storm Water Celebration

Part of our storm water permit requires storm water education. Our program involves public outreach combining the demonstration of LID practices with attractive children's activities designed to remind us that water quality is also important to our greater environmental community. In August 2010, the Kalamazoo County Drain Office partnered with the Road Commission of Kalamazoo County and the County General to present "Storm Water Otter World" at the first Kalamazoo Water Festival. The intent was to draw families to a play center highlighting the natural history of the River Otter surrounded by demonstrations of LID practices.

Storm Water Regulation

The Kalamazoo County Drain Office participates in a joint Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) storm water permit with the Road Commission of Kalamazoo County and is responsible for administering a part of the permit on behalf of both the County Drains and the County General. The Kalamazoo portion of the county is subject to a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) for total phosphorus. The activities in the permit are described by the Storm Water Discharges from Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4s) - Watershed General Permit.

At this point, permit activities primarily center on public education, watershed planning, storm water pollution avoidance at facilities, adoption of local storm water ordinances and monitoring of major drain outfalls to the Kalamazoo River. New site development rules for storm water are in the works and will be presented for adoption by local governments in 2011. Insight into the permit can be found at:

The EPA National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Storm Water Program

Michigan's Storm Water Program Overview

Municipalities with Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) Compliance Assistance Program

The four current major watershed current plans are:

Discharging to the Kalamazoo River: Discharging to the St. Joseph River: