Campus Water Quality
UNC collects samples of water from campus streams and tests them for chemicals that are indicators of stormwater pollution. Monitoring campus streams helps identify water quality problems and the causes of these problems. Disposal of pollutants such as paint, soap or oils to the storm drainage system is called an illicit discharge. UNC has an Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Policy.
The long term health of campus streams is monitored by periodic collection and identification of the numbers and types of aquatic insects living in campus streams.
Illicit Discharge Stream Sampling Program
To help identify illicit discharges to UNC’s stormwater system, water quality samples are collected from campus streams following long periods of dry weather. This ensures that flow in streams will be minimal and any illicit discharge pollution will be highly concentrated and easier to detect.
UNC analyzes these dry weather stream samples for ammonia, chlorine, copper, detergent, phosphorus, and phenol. These analyses are helpful for detecting pollution from sewage, improper wash water disposal, and improper disposal of disinfectants.
Another way to detect illicit discharges is through dye testing. For example, if an illicit discharge is suspected to be coming from a sink drain, accidentally connected to a stormwater pipe, non-toxic dye is first added to the sink. Then an observation area is set up at the closest point where water can be seen flowing in the stormwater piping system. If the dye is seen in the stormwater pipe, the source of the water pollution has been discovered.
Real-Time Stream Monitoring Stations
Meeting of the Waters Creek and Crow Branch Creek are monitored 24 hours a day via remote monitoring stations. These stations are solar powered. Dissolved oxygen, pH, temperature, turbidity, flow and rainfall are measured at these sites.
Aquatic Insect Sampling
The long term health of campus streams is monitored by periodic collection and identification of the numbers and types of aquatic insects living in campus streams. Students and faculty from the UNC Curriculum in Ecology collect aquatic insects two times each calendar year. They analyze the types and numbers of insects present in campus streams and provide these data to the Stormwater Management Program personnel. Some aquatic insects are very tolerant of pollution while others can not live in polluted waters. If water quality improves over time, populations of the more susceptible species of aquatic insects should increase.
Stormwater System Mapping
UNC is currently updating its stormwater drainage systems maps using a global positioning system and storing this information in a geographic information system database. These accurate maps will allow UNC to follow pollution up stormwater piping to its source.