Stormwater Management

In 2003, the Town’s storm drain system became regulated under a Clean Water Act Permit commonly referred to as the “Stormwater Phase II program”  (Stormwater Phase I applied to large cities with populations of 100,000 or more beginning in 1990).  Just as a wastewater treatment plant is regulated for the wastewater it discharges into natural waterbodies, the Town’s storm drain pipes (called outfalls) are regulated for the stormwater they discharge into natural waterbodies.  

There are 29 other municipalities that are regulated under this program.  The Maine DEP maintains a copy of all permits at this website:  MS4, Stormwater Program, Bureau of Land & Water Quality, Maine Department of Environmental Protection.  Cape Elizabeth partners with the other Portland Area communities to implement many elements of the program.  For an overview of Cape Elizabeth's roles and responsibilities, click here to view the Town's "municipal fact sheet."

The Stormwater Phase II program requires that the Town complete a variety of activities oriented around the storm drain system including the following:  

Educating the public about stormwater and the ways in which it can become polluted. All residents and businesses should be careful not to let anything but stormwater be discharged into these basins.

The Town is also a partner in the ThinkBlueMaine program, which provides additional public education around good stormwater practices that businesses and residents can follow.  Visit Think Blue Maine for more information.

Interlocal Stormwater Working Group Meetings.  The Town participates in the Interlocal Stormwater Working Group, which is a coalition of fourteen municipalities and two nested MS4 communities in the Greater Portland and Saco areas.  These communities work together to address stormwater issues.  They meet every other month to discuss their collaborative efforts and the meetings are open to the public.  The Cumberland County Soil and Water Conservation District maintains an event calendar with the meeting notices, which can be accessed on the District's Calendar on their home page:

The YardScaping Program is one way residents can protect stormwater from coming into contact with fertilizers and pesticides:  Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District Yardscape


Inspecting and maintaining the condition of the storm drain system.  The Town has always dedicated resources to maintain its infrastructure such as roadways, sewers, and Town-owned land such as Fort Williams Park.  The Stormwater Phase II program requires that catch basins be inspected at least every two years, and cleaned whenever more than three inches of sediment accumulates.  Maintenance requirements also include repairing any pipes or catch basins that are in poor condition.


Excessive vegetation and historic sedimentation were keeping this outfall from allowing water to pass freely.

The vegetation was cleared, the channel was widened to allow flows to pass freely.  The rip rap around the pipe outlet will prevent future erosion.  The jute mat on the embankment will allow the area to revegetate without excessive erosion.

Inspections also include evaluations for illicit discharges.  Illicit discharges that are illegal according to Town Ordinances.  Only stormwater is allowed in the storm drain system.  There are a few allowed non-stormwater discharges, such as clean groundwater from sumps, or runoff from residential car washing.  But generally, if it isn't stormwater, it should not be in the storm drain system.  Items such as pet waste, paint, oil, and litter should be properly disposed of or recycled.

This paint discharging into the storm drain system is considered an "illicit" discharge and is prohibited by Town ordinances.  Storm drains discharge directly to water bodies, not to treatment plants.  This storm drain discharged to a beach area in Cape Elizabeth.  Fortunately, the Public Works Department contained the spilled paint before it reached the beach.

Stormwater Treatment Systems:  The Town has been installing stormwater treatment systems around town to protect our natural resources.  The Thomas Memorial Library has a treatment system under its parking lot.  The high school and middle schools have several treatment systems and there are even two "tree box filters;" one near Fort Williams Park and one near the high school track.  These systems remove sediment, brake dust, tire dust, and other pollutants from stormwater before allowing it to discharge out to our waterbodies.

Location of tree box filter at entrance to Fort Williams Park.

There are also new treatment systems at Town Hall to treat the runoff from the Town parking lot. Private businesses and subdivisions with private roads are also required to maintain their stormwater treatment systems.  Maintenance of these systems is an important way that stormwater can be protected from pollutants.

Plans Annual Reports are also required to be prepared.  The Maine Department of Environmental Protection regulates the Town's storm drain system by issuing General Permits every five years.  The Town prepared a Five-Year Stormwater Program Management Plan for the most recent permit cycle, and Annual Reports are prepared and sent to the Maine DEP each year.  The Towns Plans and Annual Reports are available on the Town's Master Plans and Reports webpages.

Reporting Stormwater Related Concerns:  If you see someone dumping into a catch basin or have concerns related to stormwater, call the Public Works Department to report it.  

Public Works Department # 207-799-4151

General Information
Jay Reynolds
Phone Numbers
Emergencies: Dial 911
10 Cooper Drive
Cape Elizabeth,

Monday - Thursday
6:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.