View UNM’s RY23 Annual Stormwater Report for Public Comment here.

Improving Stormwater Management at UNM:


One permit regulates all stormwater at UNM. The Middle Rio Grande Watershed-Based Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permit  (MS4 permit for short) authorizes UNM to release stormwater into the Rio Grande River. 

What's in the MS4 name?

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.Municipal means that the outflow system is owned by a state, city, town, or other public entity. As the permit holder, UNM is considered the municipality and the regulator for all stormwater within its property. Separate means that the stormwater system is separated from the sanitary sewer i.e., storm water flows through inlets and diversion channels to the Rio Grande, while sanitary water follows sewer pipes to a water treatment plant. The “S4 in MS4 is simply an abbreviation of “Separate Storm Sewer System”.  

What’s the point of the MS4?

The purpose of UNM’s MS4 permit is to keep the Rio Grande free of pollution. To understand how it does this, it’s important to know about the origin of the permit. The MS4 exists as a provision of the Clean Water Act of 1972 (CWA). CWA created a policy for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate the flow of pollutants into U.S. bodies of water under a permitting system called the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System. As an MS4 permit holder, UNM must "reduce the discharge of pollutants to the Maximum Extent Practicable” (MEP). In summary, the MS4 permit reduces pollution from the storm sewer into bodies of water by making the permit holder fulfill an annual compliance process

What does UNM have to do as an MS4 permit holder?

UNM EHS creates an annual Storm Water Management Plan (SWMP) to stay in compliance with the permit. Within the SWMP is contained a set of best management practices, designed and implemented to reduce stormwater pollution. The EHS department leads education events and conducts stormwater quality inspections. Additionally, we review building plans for opportunities for Stormwater Management.  

EHS aims to continually improve stormwater management at UNM. We appreciate your feedback on the SWMP and reporting on stormwater concerns. 

Figure 1


UNM has three types of plans which cover the management of the MS4 permit.

  1. The Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) - An overview of the entire stormwater management program
  2. The UNM Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Plan (IDDE) - A plan to stop the illicit dumping of pollutants 
  3. The Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) - A plan for construction-related pollution on a site-by-site basis. 


EHS issues Stormwater Guidance for UNM Staff and Contractors that plan, design, construct, operate, or maintain stormwater infrastructure. The purpose of the guidance is to facilitate compliance with stormwater regulations and encourage the appropriate use of best management practices before, during, and after construction.


The Environmental Health & Safety Department (EHS) provides public education on stormwater through a combination of Welcome Back Days events, advertising campaigns, and the UNM website. Welcome Back Days events include a slideshow, quiz, and giveaway of event materials. EHS runs an annual advertising campaign through KUNM, which focuses on the control of pet waste pollution. The reach of this program is much broader, with a listenership of over 10,000 in Albuquerque. In addition, the department helps administer a physical ad campaign using materials from ABCWUA (Figure 2). 


  • Awareness Training
    • EHS offers a self-paced, online Stormwater Management course in Learning Central (EHS Stormwater Management). If you cannot access Learning Central, or have trouble accessing it, please contact Thanatos VonFox (
    • Via Zoom, EHS offers a stormwater training session for project managers (i.e. UNM staff or contractors in charge of large construction projects). Contact Thanatos VonFox (vgough@unm.eduto request this training, which can be scheduled year-round.
  • Sustainability Expo