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Michigan State UniversityMichigan State UniversityInfrastructure Planning and Facilities


The MSU IPF works closely with other campus units to protect water sources from contamination.


MSU's Wellhead Protection Program was approved by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality in 2000. The program is updated periodically, with the latest update completed in 2014. A team composed of members from IPF's Power and Water department, IPF’s Planning, Design and Construction, Institute of Water Research, Department of Geography, Land Management Office, Environmental Health and Safety, and MSU Police assessed the area that needs protection, took inventory of potential contamination sources and designed management strategies for current and future wells.

In addition, MSU has been designated a Groundwater Guardian (GG) community by the Groundwater Foundation since 2001. GG is a national program that recognizes communities for proactive groundwater protection activities.

Surface water

Stormwater is managed by a team of faculty, staff and students representing a broad cross-section of the university. Academic and operations sides of the university apply their expertise in keeping surface water clean. A Stormwater Committee comprised of a subset of these representatives and chaired by the University Engineer meets monthly to review stormwater issues pertaining to campus.

For information about the activities and initiatives being implemented to protect campus surface water, visit the MSU Water website.

Illicit discharges

An illicit discharge is anything that enters the storm drain system that is not composed entirely of stormwater or groundwater. Illicit discharges are a problem because unlike sanitary sewage, which flows to the wastewater treatment plant, storm water enters the Red Cedar River without any treatment. Illicit discharges may or may not be intentional. Some examples of illicit discharges include a sanitary sewer pipe that is improperly connected to a storm drain and the dumping of oil, grease, paint, solvents or automobile fluids into a storm drain.

To help protect our water supply, immediately report any suspicious material coming from a stormwater outfall into the Red Cedar River to the Office of Environmental Health and Safety, at (517) 355-0153.  

Landscaping solutions

Several landscaping solutions have been implemented at MSU to treat stormwater runoff:

  • Rain gardens – These gardens are placed to filter runoff water, reduce surface runoff into the river, and help replenish groundwater supplies.
  • Green roofs– Different types of green roofs serve different purposes
    • Sponge roofs absorb the majority of small rain events and reduce the volume and peak rates of stormwater runoff.
    • Filter roofs treat nitrogen pollution in rain
    • Blanket roofs add insulation and cool a building in summer through evapotranspiration (the sum of water transfer from the Earth’s surface and from plants to the atmosphere).
  • Porous pavement – The tiny holes in this material allow water to drain through it and back into the ground underneath.
  • Native re-vegetation and low-mow turf
  • Adaptive floodplain solutions

More information about campus stormwater management techniques can be accessed at the MSU Water website. A self-guided walking tour of some of MSU’s sustainable stormwater management practices has also been established.


The Greater Lansing Regional Committee for Stormwater Management (GLRC) publishes a quarterly newsletter that reports on local watershed issues.