Protecting bodies of water, on campuses and elsewhere, takes everyone’s help
Aug 30, 2023
Michael Dorsett from Environmental Health and Safety conducts an inspection of a storm water drain near Dunn Meadow at IU Bloomington. Photo by Wendi Chitwood, Indiana University.
Lakes, streams, rivers and other bodies of water are located near or run through Indiana University campuses across the state, and the activity of our communities can have a significant impact on the environment.
As National Water Quality Month wraps up, we caught up with Michael Dorsett, environmental permit coordinator for Environmental Health and Safety, who works daily to ensure IU protects its campus waters from pollution.
“Everyone has an effect on the water quality,” Dorsett said.
Pollution can have a significant impact on a community’s water resources locally, as well as water quality around the world. Dropping trash or pouring liquids onto the ground gets into runoff from rain or melted snow and then flows into creeks, lakes and other water bodies. The drains on roadsides and around our campuses also go into natural water bodies. Water from Indiana then flows to Lake Michigan or the Mississippi River and into the Gulf of Mexico.
“We all get our drinking water from those sources as some point,” Dorsett said.
It isn’t only humans who are impacted; plants and animals that live near water bodies can be harmed by pollution.
Dorsett works closely with staff from IU Capital Planning and Facilities, whose landscaping efforts help improve water quality and ensure IU meets state and federal stormwater requirements. He also connects with faculty on campus as well as city, county and state officials on environmental education efforts.
“It may seem like your impact is small and won’t make a difference; however, the cumulative impact adds up,” he said.
What can each of us do to improve water quality?
Don’t pour waste down storm drains.
Wash your car on grassy surfaces instead of concrete or asphalt.
Properly dispose of household waste like paint and motor oil.
Install a rain garden or rain barrel to catch or slow water runoff.
Visit the Protect IU website to find more information about how Environmental Health and Safety protects water quality on our campuses.