Purdue University Storm Water Collection sign now

During rainy days or periods of snowmelt, runoff of storm water often backs up on the West Lafayette, Indiana streets and sidewalks as a result of poorly designed drainage apparatuses, inefficient storm water collection, and blockage of drainage systems. The inability of this runoff water to be cleared from the streets creates, oftentimes, large puddles and large quantities of running water in areas of high student traffic. Students have the options of being forced to find an alternate route, which is usually time-consuming, wading through this unneeded backup of water, which results in wet clothing, or, at worst, getting splashed by local traffic driving through the puddles. Poor storm water collection is also an environmental threat because of runoff of chemicals used for winter snow and ice and other inorganic compounds, trash, and sediments from vehicular traffic, which will flow into sources used for public drinking water, the ground, which eventually ends up in the water table, or ultimately, into areas where animals will come in contact with it.
Purdue University, founded in 1869, along with the older city of West Lafayette, incorporates an old method, along with over 772 communities in the United States, of collecting storm water runoff by way of Combined Sewer Systems (Indiana Department of Environmental Management 2003). Most of the time, Combined Sewer Systems transport all of their wastewater to a sewage treatment plant, where it is treated and then discharged to a water body. During periods of heavy rainfall or snowmelt, however, the wastewater volume in a combined sewer system can exceed the capacity of the sewer system or treatment plant. For this reason, combined sewer systems are designed to overflow occasionally and discharge excess wastewater directly to nearby streams, rivers, or other water bodies (EPA National Pollution Discharge Elimination System 2005). This overflow of waste water, called Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO), can result in such metals as zinc, cadmium, copper, chromium, arsenic, and lead, organic chemicals like pesticides, oil, gasoline, and grease, pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and protozoa, nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus, Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD) sources such as grass clippings, fallen leaves, hydrocarbons, human, and animal waste, sediments like sand, soil, and silt, and salts such as sodium chloride and calcium chloride, being transported in this large volume of water runoff directly to surface water sources (Natural Resources Defense Council). As a result, Hoosiers, as an example for this specific project, are exposed to these different health hazards through swimming, water skiing, wading, splashing and playing, fishing and boating (IDEM 2003).
Because of the evident problems caused to students and the environment by the insufficient collection of storm water at Purdue University, this group of Purdue University students would like to use the signatures of other frustrated or concerned Purdue University students and faculty to signify an ongoing problem and bring it to the attention of the West Lafayette Waste Water Treatment Utility (WWTU). While a 20 year program has been implemented by the WWTU to significantly decrease Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), it has been observed that immediate attention must be given to this problem to both aid in student comfort and decrease the amount of waste that is being transported into public water facilities. By signing this petition, you signify your concern and support of this important topic and become a part of a growing community that cares about a comfortable and healthy environment.

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Brandi LamBy:
Petition target:
West Lafayette Waste Water Treatment Utility


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