Penn State's MS4 Program

View of a street submerged in stormwaterThe University has joined forces with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to improve the quality of stormwater run-off from Penn State property. The DEP is requiring all designated communities and other entities, such as Penn State who operate separate storm water systems, to implement storm water management programs. All members of the Penn State community can help with these stormwater improvement efforts. If faculty, staff, and students can learn to make some small behavioral changes, their individual actions can have a positive effect on the water quality of our watershed.

Stormwater is precipitation that flows across the ground and pavement. The precipitation can be in the form of rain, or snow and ice that melts and drains into what are called storm sewers. These are the drains normally seen at street corners and low spots all over campus. They are connected to a series of underground pipes that outlet to local streams. It becomes a problem when the stormwater picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants as it flows across pavement or erodes stream banks. Sometimes pollution is not picked up by stormwater run off, but enters storm drains where people dump pollution such as antifreeze, motor oil, carpet cleaning liquid, or paint into storm drains. These are called illicit discharges and can be simply eliminated by choosing proper disposal techniques.

Our stormwater program includes  six minimum control measures: public education, public involvement, construction and post-construction runoff management, illicit discharge detection and elimination. There will also be a new emphasis on good housekeeping and general pollution prevention. A link to the University's official MS4 policy EV01 is available online.  The Universities stormwater policies and programs are linked below:

Eleven of Penn State's 24 campuses are located in areas that have been designated as "municipal separate storm sewer systems," also known as MS4s, by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The locations include Abington, Behrend, Delaware, Harrisburg, Hershey, University Park, York, Altoona, Hazelton, Shenango and Worthington.

Additional MS4 information is available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's website.

Penn State partners some MS4 outreach and education activities with the surrounding municipalities: the Borough of State College and College, Harris, Ferguson, and Patton Townships. Penn State partners with these five Municipalities on many MS4 activities.

In addition, the partnership works with the local conservation group ClearWater Conservancy.