Stormwater - Total Maximum Daily Load Implementation Program

Western Michigan University (WMU) has taken the lead on adaptive management to address stormwater runoff challenges in their community. WMU is a permitted Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) within the Portage-Arcadia Creek basin in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It falls within the nonpoint source (NPS) load allocation for a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) developed for the downtstream Kalamazoo River and Lake Allegan requiring a 50% load reduction for total phosphorus (TP). Kieser & Associates, LLC (K&A) has been assisting WMU with stormwater management consulting and engineering services since 1999 in response to MS4 and TMDL issues.

For more than two decades, WMU has led local efforts to implement urban stormwater controls in the Portage-Arcadia Creek basin. Since 1998, WMU has implemented 44 stormwater control projects utilizing federal/state grant funding and strategic MS4 partnerships to implement controls identified within an EPA-approved Watershed Management Plan. With the help of K&A, WMU intentionally set out to become the first MS4 in the Kalamazoo River Watershed to document their efforts to reach the 50% TP reduction goal for their stormwater footprint of approximately 807 acres, including more than 100 buildings serving 25,000 students.

K&A evaluations of campus stormwater load reductions have documented WMU efforts and achievement of this TMDL goal through a range of on-campus and off-campus stormwater treatment projects. By 2013, WMU met and surpassed their TMDL reduction goal with on-campus projects. As of 2022, nearly 80% of their main Kalamazoo campus has stormwater treatment infrastructure in-place. For their Parkview Engineering Campus, 100% of all stormwater is captured on-site.
WMU also embraced a larger vision to become Stormwater NeutralSM verified for TP (i.e., “net-zero” phosphorus discharges from their stormwater footprint). Stormwater NeutralSM is an independent, third-party verification associated with "net-zero" stormwater loading resulting from stormwater controls relative to a quantifiable baseline condition. WMU achieved this goal also in 2013 considering their stormwater treatment investments for off-campus and adjacent to campus projects within the local watershed. They have since surpassed this goal.

Stormwater treatment and control projects focused on multiple goals: reducing direct discharges of urban stormwater runoff to surface waters, naturalizing conveyances and stream corridors, repairing erosion caused by urban runoff, reducing phosphorus and sediment loads to tributaries of the Kalamazoo River, reducing flood potential and increasing groundwater recharge. These were achieved using stormwater treatment practices including infiltration, detention/retention, and various green infrastucture and low impact development applications for all new capital improvement projects.

WMU’s stormwater investments since 1998 have exceeded $5.8M through strategic planning, capital investments and state/federal grant support. Quantifying the water quality benefits of various project opportunities has allowed WMU to implement cost-effective stormwater controls.