UND prepares for melt

With snow beginning to melt on campus, Facilities Management is relying on its workers and students to keep runoff water clean and up to State Health Department standards.

Storm Water Prevention Coordinator Merrill Debbie works with the grounds crew filling out annual reports that are submitted to the North Dakota State Health Department. The reports show work has been done and steps are being taken to meet all performance measures.

“What goes down the storm sewer eventually goes out to the river,” Merrill said. “Where do you think we get our drinking water from? What comes around, goes around.”

Merrill says student organizations go a long way themselves in keeping the English Coulee clean by volunteering to pickup trash and clean the water.

“Last year, it was the Environmental Law Society class, and they cleaned it up about every other year,” Merrill said. “Some years, just a group of some students get together for maybe Earth Day to clean up. We do coulee cleanups from the Wellness Center and go south towards University Avenue.”

The Association of Residence Halls Environmental Board organizes students to clean up the coulee each spring after the snow melts and also does cleaning projects on Earth Day. Merrill said individual students can do a lot to keep the area clean.

“Students can throw trash in designated areas and recycle, because, eventually, winds will come along and blow cups and rags down the sewer,” Merrill said. “When washing cars, they can also go to a car wash where its designated and keeps things from going down the sewer.”

Merrill said students could even take it one step further. When changing oil in their cars, students can bring the old oil to the public utilities instead of putting it out in the streets.

While student organizations are helpful in the process, grounds crew also works year round to keep UND up to environmental standards.

“In the winter time, they have to watch out for the de-icing (materials) they use for campus,” Merrill said. “When there is not a lot of snow they do use the sweepers and collect what they can, but there is the gravel as well that goes down the sewer.”

In May 2012, the crew spent nearly $900 in May cleaning up after snow melt and nearly $800 in November cleaning up fallen leaves.

“We have numerous projects on campus that are taking place,” Project Manager for Campus Construction Craig Swenson said. “The areas that are being torn up or excavated and however how much it (costs) determines if we get a permit from the state.”

To prevent chemicals and debris from getting into the storm water, the construction department at UND takes several precautions before beginning a new project.

“Around this entire area they will have a chain moving fence,” Swenson said, referring to the new location for the medical building. “It keeps people from coming in and out and designates the area. The fabric and filter protects the area that is being disturbed as the ground is torn up. A fence would take a week or two to install and that is maintained throughout the project.”

During construction, the university corresponds with local government to stay up to code.

“We provided them with drawings and plans to review before we start, so they also have input on what we are doing.” Swenson said. “We pay for a building permit like anyone else would, so during inspections they are making sure whatever we are doing is compliant.”

Mathew McKay is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. He can be reached at [email protected].