Stormwater Management

Child with Umbrella

Steven Wellstead, P.E.
Stormwater Manager

It seems silly to say we have to manage what falls from the sky. But stormwater management is about what happens when it hits the ground. All those little drops collect together to form puddles and rills of water that flows over yards, down streets and into sewers. That's when it picks up pollutants like oil, salt, bacteria, pesticides, nutrients, and sediment that can cause pollution. And most of those little drops end up in our rivers and streams. If you have enough drops then you have flooding; flooded yards, flooded basements, flooded streets, and flooded streams. 

Storm Sewer Manhole

The Lancaster Stormwater Utility was organized in 2003 to manage stormwater activities in the City and across the City Departments.  The four goals of the Utility were to

  • Provide funding for the stormwater portions of Combined Sewer Overflow Projects
  • Provide a dedicated source of funds for stormwater maintenance
  • Comply with the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System Permit from the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency
  • Fund Capital Improvements for Drainage and Water Quality
Illicit Discharge
Detention Pond LargerSize
Street Sweeper Stormwater Utility operates under a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit.  The permit requires that the City develop a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) that addresses six areas

  • Public Awareness
  • Public Education
  • Construction Stormwater Management
  • Post Construction Stormwater Management
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  • Good Housekeeping


You can find our annual report here.  These programs are all focused on water quality issues that may impact our streams.  You can do your part by practicing your own good housekeeping.  Don't sweep grass clippings into the street, minimize your use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers and don't litter.  For more hints, download our current brochure.

Illegal dumping into the storm sewer can cause pollution.  Report illegal dumping to the stormwater department at (740) 681-5070.

Funding for the Utility comes from user fees. The fee is calculated based on the amount of impervious area like roofs, driveways, parking lots and sidewalks. Impervious areas do not allow water to absorb into the ground but rather runs off into the stormwater system. One Equivalent Residential Unit (ERU) is 2600 square feet of impervious area. Our current rate is $7.64/ERU per month.

Non-residential properties with at least 5 ERU may be eligible for stormwater credits. You can find our credit application here. Contact us if you have any questions. We are always happy to sit down and explain the program.

If you have more than one user on the property, you may be eligible to deconsolidate the stormwater charge. You can find the deconsolidation application here.

Impervious Area
Storm Sewer Construction

The City first created drainage districts in 1911.  Our system has certainly grown since that time to include

  • 485,266 feet of pipe
  • 1.7 million feet of curb
  • 100 culverts
  • 1321 manholes
  • 3728 catch basins and inlets
  • 3 pump stations
  • 4 wetlands

The system is maintained by the Lancaster Department of Transportation.  To report an issue call 740-687-6668.

Storm Sewer Construction 2

And our system continues to grow as we address drainage issues, make system repairs and address combined sewer overflows. Through 2021 the stormwater utility has completed $61 million in construction projects ranging from relocating catch basins, separating combined sewer, addressing drainage issues and stream and wetland restoration. You can follow our construction program as well as other City projects on our Under Construction page.

River Valley Wetlands
Under Construction Logo

The Stormwater Utility is a partner in the City's Long Term Control Plan for Combined Sewer Overflows. Combined sewers were originally conceived to carry both stormwater and sewage. Under storm conditions, the combined sewers overflow at regulators into the Hocking River, Baldwin Run and Fetter's Run. Ohio EPA has mandated that the City reduce the number of overflows to 2-4 events in a "typical year". Through 2013, the City has invested $68 million in combined sewer overflow management. The Long Term Control Plan calls for an additional $23 million over the next ten years in additional projects. For more information on the plan see our Long Term Control Plan page.

Combined Sewer Overflow Logo
Deeds Wetland Wildflowers

The quality of water that we discharge to the streams is important. But just as important is the quality of the streams themselves. In 1930, Berne Township sued the City of Lancaster because of pollution in the Hocking River. Today the upper Hocking River has attained the water quality standards set by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. In fact they declared it the "most improved stream segment in the Sate of Ohio". The City of Lancaster is committed to protecting the streams in our community. Over 120 acres of wetlands along with 10,000 feet of stream restoration to reduce nutrients and sediment and improve stream habitat. For more information on our restoration efforts, see our Wetlands and Streams Restoration page.

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Pleasant Run Flooding
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Water Quantity issues are all about flooding. Too much stormwater will overwhelm streets, sewers, ditches and streams. The stormwater program strives to reduce flooding by establishing design standards to route and carry water away from homes and to detain peak flows so that stream capacity is maintained. But nature doesn't always cooperate and large storms will result in floods. The City of Lancaster is the Flood Plain Administrator within the City limits under the National Flood Insurance Program. As Administrator the City is responsible to regulate development within the Special Flood Hazard Areas to maintain the floodways and protect property from flood damage. For more information on the Flood Hazard Program see the Floodplain page.