Stormwater management can be improved by a change in behavior through education. Awareness is the key.
The Division of Water Pollution Control (WPC), as the stormwater manager for the City of Cleveland, is responsible for overseeing matters relating to the elimination, control and regulation of water pollution within the city limits.
Non-point stormwater runoff is rainwater and snowmelt that flows over solid, impervious surfaces such as streets, sidewalks and parking lots. Hard, compact soil also can prevent stormwater from infiltrating the ground, which can lead to street flooding and erosion. Runoff can carry debris, chemicals, sediment or other pollutants on the ground into sewer catch basins and can flow into local waterways untreated. This can cause contamination of our drinking water and compromise recreation areas along Lake Erie, which is Northeast Ohio’s main source of drinking water.
The City of Cleveland complies with Environmental Protection Agency requirements to maintain its stormwater permit. The City’s Public Involvement/Public Education (PIPE) program focuses on educating the entire community, but pays particular attention to its separate sewer areas, which have separate sewer pipes for stormwater and waste water. In those areas, also called Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) areas, runoff is discharged untreated into local waterways. Those discharges can cause water pollution and flooding.
Public Education is an important component of WPC’s authority as Cleveland’s stormwater manager. Annually, WPC participates in numerous community events to inform residents and others about how their personal actions related to stormwater runoff can impact water quality and impede the free-flowing capacity of the city’s sewer system.
The division promotes the use of low-impact best management practices (BMP) to help prevent flooding, protect stream channels and improve water quality. Examples of BMPs suitable for residential and commercial properties are green roofs covered with grass and plants to absorb rain water, downspouts connected to rain barrels to collect rain water for re-use, rain gardens with native plants that absorb large amounts of water, and pervious pavements that absorb and filter rain water.
This Stormwater Management area of the WPC website offers valuable resources related to stormwater management.