Environmental Services

The Water Resources Division is also 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 Water Resources 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.

Stormwater Management

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Stormwater Phase II Rule expanded the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) storm water program (Phase I) to address storm water discharges in urbanized areas from municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) and construction sites. The goal of the MS4 program is to reduce the discharge of pollutants to surface waters of the State.  An MS4 is a system of drainage (including roads, storm drains, pipes, and ditches, etc.) that is not a combined sewer or part of a sewage treatment plant.  During wet weather, pollutants can be transported through MS4s to local water bodies.

The program includes measures that must be met by MS4 owners such as the City of Kalamazoo. The City has fulfilled the requirements of the Phase II Stormwater Regulations as outline in their recently approved 2019 State of Michigan NPDES Permit for the discharge of stormwater to the surface waters of the state.

Under an Inter-Agency Agreement between the City of Kalamazoo and Kalamazoo Valley Community College (KVCC), our new stormwater partner agreed to “nest” under the City’s NPDES Permit by complying with all necessary measure to report and resolve stormwater quality issues using the City’s ordinances and other regulatory plans. KVCC has several stormwater points of discharge to the surface water. KVCC’s nesting agreement also includes a Public Education Plan outlining the strategies its partners can participate in to educate the public on stormwater issues and concerns.

Stormwater Management Plan 2021

The City of Kalamazoo’s Storm Water Management Plan is available for public review and comment.The Stormwater Management Plan  and a short Summary Table can be found online at https://protectyourwater.net/storm-water-management/.  In addition, this website also contains a lot of other water quality information – including many tips on how you can help prevent pollutants from reaching the surface water and groundwater. You may comment on the information provided using the Contact Page here: https://protectyourwater.net/contact/.

Stormwater quality depends on and involves a lot of different issues – making sure construction sites have soil erosion and sedimentation control measures in place, properly managing runoff associated with new development and redevelopment , being on the lookout for dumping and making sure that only clean water enters storm drains,, properly managing municipal operations such as street sweeping and winter road management to reduce potential impacts to water quality, storm sewer infrastructure maintenance and cleaning, and public education and outreach.

Please remember, “What Gets to the Street, Gets to the Creek.”

Illicit Discharge Elimination Program (IDEP)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Stormwater Phase II Rule requires the development of an IDEP to prohibit and effectively eliminate illicit discharges and connections, including discharges of sanitary wastewater to the permittee's separate storm sewer system. The City of Kalamazoo implements the IDEP in partnership with KVCC as part of its 2019 Stormwater NPDES Permit. An approved MS4 IDEP 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.

Routine dry weather screenings of the outfalls to identify illicit connections, as well as facility inspections are conducted regularly to fulfill these obligations.

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.
      • 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.
      • A Wellhead Protection Area (WHPA) area is defined by the Time-of-Travel Capture Zone through which contaminants are reasonably likely to move toward, reach and impact such wellfields, thus potentially effecting the municipal water supply.
    • 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 (1.68 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, Water Resources staff participate actively in characterizing the problem, identifying a solution, and implementing a remedial strategy approved by the appropriate regulatory agency, the Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy (EGLE, formerly MDEQ) 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.

Kalamazoo County Hazard Mitigation Plan

Site Plan Review requirements

There are additional requirements of the Site Plan Review process that pertain to the protection of water resources:

Environmental Concerns Committee

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 Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. in the Community Room at City Hall.


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. You can also visit the City of Kalamazoo Water Resources Facebook Page for water tips and more. 

City of Kalamazoo

Home to the Kalamazoo Promise, three institutions of higher education, two nationally recognized healthcare systems, cutting-edge medical research, world-class brewing and dining, outstanding parks, and an extensive variety of music, art, theatre, and cultural attractions.


 (269) 337-8000
 (269) 337-8182
 241 West South Street
     Kalamazoo, MI 49007

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