Our Role

Water Pollution Control (WPC) is the stormwater manager for the City of Cleveland and is responsible for overseeing matters relating to the elimination, control and regulation of water pollution within the city limits. WPC controls water pollution with a series of proactive measures, including sewer maintenance operations, capital improvement projects, enforcement of discharge regulations and public education.


Stormwater Manager

The Commissioner of Water Pollution Control is designated as the Stormwater Manger for the city of Cleveland, responsible for overseeing the implementation of the entire Stormwater Management Program (SWMP).

In addition to oversight, the Commissioner heads the city’s Stormwater Steering Committee. The committee is comprised of representatives from various city departments/divisions (Building & Housing, Planning, Law, Public Works, and the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability) that provide support and guidance for the city’s stormwater management efforts and ensures that the city remains in compliance with stormwater regulations.

WPC, as Cleveland’s Stormwater Manager, has to demonstrate compliance with the SWMP by submitting annual reports to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.


View Stormwater Reports


Stormwater Management Program

The Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) helps improve water quality in local waterways by reducing the quantity of pollutants that rain and snow melt picks up and carries into storm drains. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) mandates that Cleveland reduce stormwater runoff in its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) areas, which are neighborhoods that have separate sewers. Currently, 10 of the city’s 17 wards have some separate sewers, which allow stormwater to flow directly to waterways untreated.

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Stormwater Runoff and the Need to Reduce Its Flow

Stormwater runoff is rainfall or snow melt that flows over the ground surface. It is created when water on roads, driveways, parking lots, rooftops and other paved surfaces do not soak into the ground. Stormwater runoff is the number one cause of stream impairment in urban areas. Large volumes of water are carried to our local streams, wetlands, Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River and, which can cause flooding and erosion, and wash away important habitat for animals that live in or around waterways.

Stormwater runoff also picks up and carries with it many different pollutants that are found on paved surfaces such as sediment, nitrogen, phosphorus, bacteria, oil and grease, trash, pesticides and metals. These pollutants come from a variety of sources, including pet waste, lawn fertilization, cars, construction sites, illegal dumping and spills, and pesticide application. Researchers have found that as the amount of paved/pervious surfaces in a watershed increases, stream health declines.

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is an area of land that drains rain and snowmelt into a specific larger waterway, such as a river or lake. Everyone lives in a watershed, and our actions on the land have a significant impact on water quality. Healthy watersheds substantially affect the quality of life for people and the environment.

When stormwater flows over grounds in Northeast Ohio it carries away natural and human pollutants from sidewalks, parking lots, yards and construction sites. That contaminated water flows to a nearby waterway that eventually makes its way to Lake Erie untreated. It is important to protect our local watersheds waterways and maintain them as safe places for recreation and as sources of drinking water.

Cleveland Watersheds/Brochures:


Central Lake Erie Basin Collaborative: A network of organizations and initiatives that work together to protect and restore natural areas and promote stormwater solutions for a healthy Lake Erie, its tributaries and all local waterways.

Find your watershed at centrallakeerie.org.



Minimum Control Measures

Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) permittees, such as Cleveland, must develop, implement, and enforce a Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) designed to reduce the discharge of pollutants to the maximum extent practicable to protect water quality and to satisfy the appropriate water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act.

Cleveland’s SWMP explains how the program is run, describes best management practices (BMPs) and measurable goals that are used to address the Six Minimum Control Measures (MCMs) in the permit. Learn more about MCMs.

WPC Outreach Event

MCM #1: Public Education & Outreach

WPC conducts a Public Involvement/Public Education (PIPE) Program, which includes participating in community events and distributing literature to inform residents and others about the impacts of stormwater discharges. The PIPE program operates on the premise that awareness is key to helping the public understand how behavioral changes can help reduce pollutants in urban runoff by practicing stormwater management best practices and other water-pollution-prevention practices. Stormwater management can be improved by a change in behavior through education. Awareness is the key.

Doan Brook Stream Cleanup

MCM #2: Public Participation & Involvement

WPC sponsors, organizes and participates in community stream and beach cleanups as a way of interacting with residents and fulfilling its mission as an “innovative steward” of the environment.

CB sticker Horizontal

MCM #3: Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination

The city of Cleveland does not allow non-stormwater discharges into its storm sewer systems. Stormwater discharges are monitored to detect and address any non-stormwater discharges, and coordinates with other departments and agencies in identifying illegal discharges/dumping. WPC performs outfall screenings using its comprehensive Storm Sewer System Maps. Teens in the Mayor’s Summer Youth Employment Program are instrumental in helping catalogue and screen the outfalls.

Sewer Construction Inspection

MCM #4: Construction Site Runoff Control

The City of Cleveland’s Building and Housing Department (B&H) monitors and helps WPC enforce regulations related to construction site runoff. B&H also has a contract with the Cuyahoga Soil & Water Conservation District to review plans, conduct inspections, provide reports, and conduct field enforcement with contractors.


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MCM #5: Post-Construction Runoff Control

Cleveland Building & Housing also monitors post-construction runoff from new developments and re-development projects, enforcing codes.

Relief sewer construction - Marcella Rd

MCM #6: Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations

WPC has a preventative maintenance program that incorporates all of the requirements of the MS4 general permit. WPC’s plan includes annually cleaning at least one-third (1/3) of the City’s storm drains and conducting routine inspections.


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