The Environmental Services Division is responsible for maintaining compliance with federal, state, and local regulations, and creating a culture of environmental stewardship in Kalamazoo through proactive collaboration in regulatory oversight and support, program development and administration, and public outreach & education. Many programs are in place to ensure the protection of our water resources and environment, the proper treatment of wastewater, and the safe management of hazardous materials, among others. Additional information is available at www.protectyourwater.net. or by contacting the Environmental Services Division at (269) 337-8365. Please notify us at (269) 337-8149 if you notice any unusual activity or individuals around City water facilities, tanks, wells, or hydrants.
Cross Connection Program
You can help ensure that our water remains safe by preventing cross connections and ensuring that backflow prevention devices are installed, inspected, and properly maintained by licensed and certified plumbers, as required by state and local plumbing codes. Cross connections are arrangements of piping through which a backflow of undesirable material could enter the water system. A backsiphonage backflow can be created in an area when a sudden loss of pressure occurs such as during a water main break, when a fire department uses a large quantity of water, or during hydrant flushing. If you experience a sudden loss of pressure in your area, thoroughly flush your lines after pressure is restored before using the water. Flushing your taps will help to alleviate potential undesirable material, as well as iron particles that are often present after a water main break or hydrant flushing.
We ask all our customers to:
- Help protect our water by preventing cross-connections from occurring by installing proper backflow devices within your homes and businesses.
- Never submerge hoses in buckets, pools, tubs, sinks or process tanks.
- Do not use spray attachments without a backflow prevention device. The chemicals used on your lawn are toxic and can be fatal if ingested.
- Do buy and install inexpensive backflow prevention devises (hose bib vacuum breakers) for all threaded faucets around you home or business. They are available at hardware stores and home-improvement centers.
- Never install sprinkler systems, fire suppression systems, or boilers with chemical additives without proper backflow prevention devices.
- Ensure that your softener drain line has an air gap between the drain line and the receiving drain.
Wellhead Protection Program
The Wellhead Protection Program (WHPP) is an organized planning and management effort to protect groundwater used by public water supply systems from known and potential sources of contamination. The 1986 amendments to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act required states to implement a WHPP. Currently, participation is voluntary for public water supply systems in Michigan. However, if they do participate in the program, they must follow established state guidelines for the program.
Required elements of a Wellhead Protection Program are:
- Definition of the roles and responsibilities
- Delineation of Capture Zones, the surface and subsurface area surrounding a water well or wellfield which contributes groundwater used by a Public Water Supply System. This area, where contaminants could move from to eventually impact wells or wellfields, is designated as a Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA)
- Preparation of a contaminant source inventory
- Development of contingency plans for water supply emergencies
- Development of wellhead protection area management plans
- Proper siting of new wells and/or wellfields
- Development of public education and participation
There are many reasons to have a WHPP including increased protection of public health by protecting drinking water supplies; protection of the financial investment in the system by avoiding costly environmental cleanups; additional support from state and federal agencies when threats to groundwater occur within WHPAs; potential for reducing state and federal requirements for water quality monitoring; clarification of responsibilities and coordination of efforts among local, county and state governmental agendas; and enhanced community pride, self-sufficiency and public trust.
The City of Kalamazoo has been involved in the Wellhead Protection Program since 1992, and formed the City of Kalamazoo Wellhead Protection Committee in 1993. The approach in Kalamazoo has been somewhat unique in comparison to most of the over 100 Michigan communities involved in the program, since it is addressing all seven program elements concurrently. In May 2007, a pdf Wellhead Protection Zoning Overlay (585 KB) was adopted by the City Commission ( pdf Ordinance No. 1825 (67 KB) ) for the City's Wellhead Protection Areas, as defined by the 1-year and 10-year Time-of-Travel Capture Zones (a Wellhead Protection Area is the surface or subsurface areas supplying water to wells or wellfields through which contaminants are reasonably likely to move toward and reach such wellfields; a Time-of-Travel Capture Zone is the area indicating the travel time for water to flow through an aquifer and reach a well or wellfield). At the same time, the Commission adopted pdf Performance Standards for Ground Water Protection (1.77 MB) ( pdf Ordinance No. 1826 (27 KB) ) to establish protective measures and best management practices to safeguard drinking water sources and protect surface water.
Contaminated Sites Program
The Environmental Services Division works to identify and manage contaminated sites in the City that may threaten public health and well-being, including threats to our drinking water supplies. Such sites include abandoned and active gas stations, dry cleaners, industrial sites, and other potential sources of pollutants.
At sites where the City has liability for contamination and some financial responsibility for remediation, Environmental Services staff participate actively in characterizing the problem, identifying a solution, and implementing a remedial strategy approved by the appropriate regulatory agency, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Hazardous Materials Management Program
Hazardous materials by accidental spill, neglect or by criminal action can contaminate our environment and health and safety hazards. When this happens life, safety, and property must to be protected including vital natural resources such as groundwater. The following mitigation of these hazardous materials requires the proper resources and professionalism.
To accomplish this, a regional Hazardous Materials Management Team was established in 2004 with members from the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, the City of Portage, Kalamazoo County, Comstock Township, Oshtemo Township, Pfizer Corp., South Kalamazoo County Governments, and others. In total, there are about 40 members on the team, with an executive board representing the contributing governments and industries. This cooperative intergovernmental approach has the resources necessary to respond to and remediate the site of a hazardous material spill or contamination. The Hazardous Materials Management Team may also choose to work with private contractors in the remediation effort.
Please use caution and abide by all local, state, and federal regulations when handling hazardous substances. A party deemed to be at fault for a hazardous material spill will be held responsible for the costs of remediation, and may be liable for fines or penalties. Please be responsible, safe, and help protect our environment.
Contact: Chris Kotecki (269) 337-8071
Site Plan Review requirements
There are additional requirements of the Site Plan Review process that pertain to the protection of water resources:
- Ordinance Number 1825, Appendix A: Chapter 3, Section 3.6 "Wellhead Protection Zoning Overlay" addresses land use prohibitions, restrictions, and the necessity of groundwater protective measures within Wellhead Protection Capture Zones
- Ordinance Number 1826, Appendix A: Chapter 8, Section 8.3 "Performance Standards for Groundwater Protection within Wellhead Protection Capture Zones and Stormwater Quality Management" requires protective measures to minimize potential adverse impacts to groundwater sources that provide drinking water supplies and surface water resources
- Chapter 29 "Stormwater System" of the Code of Ordinances addresses illicit connections and discharges to the City's stormwater collection system
The Environmental Concerns Committee monitors significant environmental trends affecting the City of Kalamazoo and advises the City Manager and City Commission regarding environmental matters. The Committee also serves as a citizens’ forum for environmental issues. The ECC meets monthly on the third Monday at 4:30 p.m. in the Community Room at City Hall.
Illicit Discharge Elimination Program
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Stormwater Phase II Rule includes measures that must be met by municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) owners such as the City of Kalamazoo. This rule requires the development of an Illicit Discharge Elimination Program to prohibit and effectively eliminate illicit discharges and connections, including discharges of sanitary wastewater to the permittee's separate storm sewer system. An approved MS4 Illicit Discharge Elimination Program contains the follow requirements:
- A program to find, prioritize and eliminate illicit discharges and illicit connections identified during dry weather screening activities.
- A description of a program to minimize infiltration of seepage from sanitary sewers and on-site sewage disposal systems into the storm sewer drainage system.
- A method for determining the effectiveness of the illicit discharge elimination activities, which shall result in the inspection of each storm water point source a minimum of every five years unless an alternative schedule is approved.
- An updated map showing the location of each known stormwater point source (outfall) and the respective receiving water or drainage system.
The City of Kalamazoo prepared an Illicit Discharge Elimination Plan as part of its Stormwater NPDES Permit Application in March 2003 and a revised plan in December 2004. The City performs dry weather screenings of the outfalls to identify illicit connections, as well as facility inspections.
The Environmental Services Division works to protect our environment in many ways. More information is available, including how you can help, at www.protectyourwater.net.