The overarching goal of District watershed projects is to conserve Cumberland County’s water resources. District projects identify and mitigate sources of pollution through various projects, including:
- Watershed survey and implementation projects
- Development of watershed management plans
- Restoration projects on urban impaired streams
- Stakeholder groups and forums
Click on the links to the left to learn more about our current watershed programs.
The Number One Threat: Stormwater Runoff
Rain and snow melt that flow across the land is the largest source of pollution to Maine’s fresh water lakes, ponds, streams and rivers because:
- The runoff can wash phosphorus into water, leading to nuisance algal blooms that cloud the water and impact wildlife habitat
- The runoff can wash soil into our water bodies. Soil darkens the water, allowing it to absorb more sunlight and raise its temperature, which is a problem for Maine’s cold water species
- In urban settings, runoff also washes toxic chemicals (metals, lawn care products, oil, etc.), bacteria, and nutrients off pavement and directly into streams, wetlands and bays via storm drains
- A University of Maine study found that as water clarity decreases, property values also decline
Interlocal Stormwater Workgroup
Mandated by Congress under the Clean Water Act, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Stormwater Program is a comprehensive national program for addressing the non-agricultural sources of stormwater discharges, which adversely affect the quality of our Nation’s waters. The program uses an established permitting mechanism to require the implementation of minimum control measures (MCMs) designed to prevent harmful pollutants from being washed by stormwater runoff into local water bodies. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations require communities in urbanized areas to develop programs to manage stormwater runoff by addressing the following six minimum control measures:
- Public education and outreach on stormwater impacts
- Public involvement/participation
- Illicit discharge detection and elimination
- Construction site stormwater runoff and control
- Post-construction stormwater management in new development and redevelopment
- Pollution prevention/good housekeeping for municipal operations
Enacted in 1990, Phase I of the NPDES Stormwater Program regulated medium and large municipalities, those with populations of 100,000 or greater. This was followed in 1999 by Phase II which extended the program to small storm drain system owners within urbanized areas not covered previously. Eleven Cumberland County municipalities are subject to Phase II stormwater regulation. In 2002, the District, along with other partners, brought the communities together into the “Interlocal Stormwater Workgroup” (ISWG). The group developed a model plan to be submitted to Maine DEP. This plan and interlocal approach has been used by the State as a model for the other 17 regulated municipalities in Maine. The ISWG was profiled at the Stormwater Management in Cold Climates Conference in November 2003 and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Committee Stormwater Conference in Spring 2004.
The District is currently in the process of updating Cumberland County’s Hazard Mitigation Plan on behalf of Cumberland County Emergency Management. The updated Plan will be posted when available.