Stormwater is water that flows off of hard surfaces, such as rooftops and driveways, and flows into the City's storm sewers or into creeks, rivers or waterways.

Stormwater management

Stormwater management controls runoff to minimize erosion, improve water quality and reduce flooding. Components of a stormwater management system include:

  • Lot-level activities (rain barrels and downspouts)
  • Conveyance methods to move or transfer stormwater (pipes, sewers and ditches)
  • End-of-pipe collection (stormwater management ponds)


The City performs regular maintenance on the conveyance and end-of-pipe systems, including:

  • Cleaning of sewers and catch basins
  • Removing debris
  • Sweeping streets
  • Collecting leaves
  • Cutting grass
  • Maintaining fences and gates

Stormwater management ponds

Stormwater management ponds provide storage for water runoff to slow the flow into downstream outlets, such as sewers, creeks and rivers. There are different types of stormwater management ponds, including:

  • Dry ponds
  • Wet ponds
  • Wetland ponds
  • Infiltration facilities
  • Hybrid ponds consisting of any of the above types

There are some risks related to stormwater management ponds, such as flooding, poor water quality and ice.

There are stormwater management ponds in Cambridge on both public and private properties.

Stormwater Management Master Plan

In 2011, the City of Cambridge completed a Stormwater Management Master Plan. The goal of this Plan was to develop strategies to manage the City's infrastructure related to flooding and stormwater quality.

As part of our Stormwater Management Master Plan, we revised our Stormwater Management Policies and Guidelines.

Stormwater management studies

The Stormwater Management Master Plan included an assessment of existing drainage infrastructure and deficiencies, and development of management alternatives. The Stormwater Management Master Plan established a set of priority-based recommendations for future maintenance programs to address flood risk and stormwater quality issues throughout Cambridge.

This study followed phases one and two of the Municipal Class Environmental Assessment (MCEA). After the MCEA process, the City will move forward with more detailed studies related to the projects included in the Master Plan.

For more information about our Stormwater Management Master Plan, view the following maps:

How you can help

There are many ways you can help support our stormwater management system in Cambridge, such as:

  • Using a rain barrel to collect water for your garden
  • Avoiding over-watering your lawn or garden
  • Disposing of trash, yard waste and pet waste properly
  • Obeying all posted signs, including no skating and no swimming signs
  • Sweeping dirt from your sidewalks and driveway and putting it in the garbage instead of on the road
  • Reducing the use of salt for ice melting in the winter
  • Directing your downspouts to gardens or grass and not onto hard surfaces (driveway)
  • Using less fertilizer and pesticides or stop using them entirely