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Storm Water and Oakland University

Storm and sanitary sewers are both designed to move wastewater and runoff away from living areas. However, there are important distinctions between the two.

A Storm Sewer is a system designed to carry rain, snowmelt and drainage. Storm water is carried in underground pipes or in open ditches and discharges directly into streams and lakes. This water is not treated before it reaches a natural body of water. Pollutants that get into storm drains can poison wildlife and eventually find their way into our drinking water. It is important that you never pour anything down a storm drain.

A Sanitary Sewer is a system designed to carry sewage and other wastewater from toilets, sinks and floor drains to a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). At the treatment plant, the wastewater undergoes a series of physical, chemical and biological processes to remove contaminants. Most of Oakland University's campus is served by the Detroit Water and Sewerage Department (DWSD) system. This means our water comes from DWSD water treatment plants and our sewage flows into DWSD wastewater treatment plants.

Most people think that the pollution in our lakes and streams is a result of factories that dump chemicals into the water. The truth is that water pollution comes from a wide variety of sources and even from things we do every day, like drive a car. As rain water flows over our streets, parking lots or lawns, it has the potential to pick up large amounts of damaging pollution from things like fertilizer, road salt and oil. This water then enters our local lakes and streams carrying these or many other potential pollutants. There are many things we can do to minimize this risk.

Oakland University's Storm Water Management Program seeks to:

  • protect water resources;
  • comply with federal and state storm water regulations;
  • minimize the impact the OU community has on the Clinton River Watershed.

This website has been created to help members of the Oakland University community understand how the university's storm water system operates, why storm water management is important, and what we can all do at OU and at home to help ensure a cleaner future for our local watershed.