City of Cambridge


The City of Cambridge has enacted Ordinances in order to comply with state and federal environmental regulations. The City of Cambridge is the permitting authority for all land disturbing activities and requires the land owner to maintain all on-site stormwater control facilities and all open space areas (e.g. parks or “green” areas) required by the approved stormwater control plan. The City of Cambridge will only provide construction permits to projects that establish a plan to manage stormwater runoff occurring during the construction process. The City of Cambridge, under the NPDES program, also has the authority to inspect properties for noncompliance and can issue a notice of violation (NOV) for any deficiency or infraction onsite. Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of any stormwater facilities or practices located on the property. The City of Cambridge has the authority to inspect stormwater facilities and practices in order to ascertain that they properly maintained and functioning.

Excerpt from Stormwater Homepage

Illegal Dumping

Runoff enters the storm drainage systems through catch basins. Storm drains often lead directly to streams, rivers, lakes, or beaches. Cambridge storm drains discharge to the Charles River or to the Alewife Brook. Please don't dump! Residents are encouraged to report illegal dumping by calling the Department of Public Works at 617-349-4800, sending an email or reporting via Commonwealth Connect app or website. Dumping anything but unpolluted water into storm drains (catch basins) is illegal. Items that should be reported include motor oil, antifreeze, soapy water, pet waste, yard clippings, paint and construction debris. 

Who is responsible for protecting waterways?

Protecting the waterways is a joint responsibility between:

Stormwater Management

The EPA (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency) has identified stormwater pollution as the largest threat to long term water quality.  In-house and USGS stormwater sampling results show that stormwater runoff contributes significant loads and high  concentrations of pollutants in the Cambridge watershed.  Typical pollutants carried by stormwater are sediments, road sand, deicing materials, phosphorus, nitrogen, and car-related substances such as oil, grease, and rubber particulates.

Municipalities

The EPA Storm Water Phase II Final Rule requires all regulated storm sewer systems to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit coverage.  Storm sewers are considered "point sources" and therefore require permits because they discharge storm water into discrete conveyances, many of which make its way back into the environment through tributaries and streams.  Once a municipality submits a permit application and permit coverage is obtained, it must satisfy the conditions of the permit and submit periodic reports on the status and effectiveness of the program at reducing pollutants to the maximum extent practicable.  Waltham, Lexington, and Weston all have storm sewer systems that fall under this EPA Phase II requirement.   The CWD is working closely with these municipalities to ensure that measures are taken to reduce pollutant loads from storm water discharges in the municipality that are close to or directly tributary to the Cambridge water supply.

Private Land Owners

In addition to managing municipal stormwater outfalls, the CWD pays close attention to construction activities and development projects.  Early collaboration can lead to private land owners incorporating stormwater BMPs in their development or re-development projects.  These BMPs can help mitigate the negative impact that an increase in impervious surfaces has on water quality.  Development projects also have to be properly managed during construction to make sure that erosion and sediment transport are minimized.

Excerpt from Stormwater Ordinance

Chapter 13.16 - WASTEWATER AND STORMWATER DRAINAGE SYSTEM

13.16.010 - Definitions.

Unless the context specifically indicates otherwise, the meaning of terms used in this chapter shall be as follows:

1. "Combined Sewer" shall mean a sewer designed to receive both wastewater and stormwater.

2. "Commissioner" means the Commissioner of Public Works of the City of Cambridge, or his or her designee.

3. "Land Disturbance" shall mean any action that causes a change in the position, location, or arrangement of soil, sand rock, gravel of similar earth material.

4. "Land Disturbance Activity" shall mean any activity that causes a change in the position or location of soil, sand, rock, gravel, or similar earth material.

5. "Owner" shall mean a person who along or jointly or severally with others has the legal title to any premises or has care, charge or control of any premises as agent, executor, administrator, trustee, lessee or guardian of the estate of the holder of legal title.

6. "Person" shall mean any agency of the federal government, any agency or political subdivision of the Commonwealth, any State, public or private corporation or authority, individual, trust, firm, joint stock company, partnership, association, or other entity, or any group thereof, and any officer, employee, or agent of such person, and any group of persons.

7. "Private Combined Sewer" shall mean a combined sewer which is not owned by the City, DCR or the MWRA. Private combined sewers include, but are not limited to, building Drains (wastewater), building combined sewer laterals and manholes located on private property and not located within an easement held by the City or other public agencies. The owner of the private combined sewer is also responsible for the connection from a private sewer to the public wastewater system.

8. "Private Sewer" shall mean a sewer that is not owned by the City, DCR or the MWRA. Private sewers include, but are not limited to building Drains (wastewater), building sewer laterals and manholes located on private property and not located within an easement held by the City or toher public agencies. The owner of the private sewer is also responsible for the connection from a private sewer to the public wastewater system.

9. "Private Stormwater Drain" shall mean a stormwater Drain that is not owned by the City or the DCR. Private Stormwater Drains include, but are not limited to, building Drains (stormwater), building stormwater Drain laterals, catch basins and manholes located on private property and not located within an easement held by the City and other public agencies. The owner of the private stormwater Drain is also responsible for the connection from a private stormwater Drain to the public stormwater system.

10. "Public Combined Sewer" shall mean a combined sewer that is owned by the City, DCR or the MWRA.

11. "Public Sewer" means a sewer which is owned by the City, DCR or the MWRA or any of their successors.

12. "Public Stormwater Drain" shall mean a stormwater Drain that is owned by the City or the DCR.

13. "Sanitary sewer" means a sewer designed to carry sewage.

14. "Sewage" means the spent water of a community, which may be a combination of liquid and water-carried wastes from residences, commercial buildings, institutions and industrial facilities, together with leachate and construction site dewatering, and exclusive of groundwater, surface water, and/or stormwater.

15. "Sewer" means a pipe or conduit for carrying sewage.

16. Shall and May. Shall is mandatory; may is permissive.

17. "Stormwater" shall mean any water resulting from rainfall or other precipitation that runs off surfaces during or after a storm.

18. "Stormwater Drain" means a pipe or conduit that carries surface water, stormwater and groundwater or runoff and is exclusive of sewage.

19. "Stormwater Drainage System" means pipes, conduits, pumping stations and appurtenances, including tidegates, catch basins, and manholes used in the collection and transport of stormwater, groundwater and runoff.

20. "Wastewater" shall mean Sewage, together with any Groundwater, Stormwater and surface water that may be present.

21. "Wastewater System" shall mean totality of the devices, equipment or works used in transportation, pumping, storage, treatment, recycling or reclamation of Wastewater or in the disposal of the effluent.

(Ord. 1313, Added, 01/28/2008)

13.16.020 - Wastewater System and Stormwater Drainage System connection - General regulations.

A. The Commissioner is hereby authorized to regulate Combined Sewers, Land Disturbance Activity, Private Combined Sewers, Private Sewers, Private Stormwater Drains, Public Combined Sewers, Public Sewers, and Public Stormwater Drains and any other equipment or installations of any description now or in the future connected to the City's Wastewater System or Stormwater Drainage System. The Commissioner shall have authority to promulgate regulations and guidance documents regulating all activities in any way related to the uncovering, excavating over, blocking access to, making any connection with or opening into, altering, or disturbing, or in any way directly or indirectly using the city's Wastewater System or Stormwater Drainage System, and shall establish permit requirements for all such activities and take necessary and appropriate enforcement action to prohibit or remedy any such unpermitted activity.

B. No unauthorized Person or Owner shall uncover, excavate over, block access to, make any connection with or opening into, alter or disturb, or in any way directly or indirectly use the City's Wastewater system or Stormwater Drainage System or appurtenance thereof without first obtaining a written permit from the Commissioner. Any person proposing a new discharge into the system or in any way changing the volume or character or any effluent that is to be or is being discharged into the City's Wastewater System or Stormwater Drainage System shall be required to notify the Commissioner at least forty-five days prior to the proposed change or connection, and shall be further required to obtain all required permits and to comply with all regulations and guidance documents promulgated by the Commissioner pursuant to the authority granted to the Commissioner by this ordinance and by any and all applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations and rules and shall be responsible for all fees and charges established by the Commissioner in said regulations.

C. All costs and expense incident to the installation and connection to the City's Wastewater System or Stormwater Drainage System and any costs of maintenance thereof shall be borne by the owner. The owner shall indemnify the City from any loss or damage that may directly or indirectly be occasioned by the installation of any connection to the City's Wastewater System or Stormwater Drainage System. Notwithstanding the foregoing, the city Manager may provide for connection to the mains of the City's Wastewater System and Stormwater Drainage System in the public way at the expense of the City when the need for a new connection stems from the City's commitments to sewer and storm drain separation and correction of improperly connected building sewer and storm drain lines as required by the United State Environmental Protection Agency, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, and the City of Cambridge DPW. The City Manager may limit the City's assumption of costs for correction or improperly connected building sewer or storm drain lines where the City Manager determines that the improper connection was made negligently, knowingly, or intentionally by the owner or form owner of the property, their agents, or other acting on their behalf.

(Ord, 1313, Added, 01/28/2008; Ord. 1313, Added, 01/28/2008; 1203, Amended, 06/01/1998)

13.16.030 - Wastewater System and Stormwater Drainage System — City Engineer's duties.

The City Engineer shall make and file in his or her office, accurate plans of the Wastewater System and the Stormwater Drainage System, showing all entrances thereto when made as provided in the regulations and guidance documents promulgated by the Commissioner pursuant to the authority granted to the Commissioner by this ordinance and by any and all applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations and rules.

(Ord. 1313, Added, 01/28/2008)

13.16.040 - Interference and obstruction during construction.

Whenever any street is opened for the laying of pipes for water, gas or other purposes, or for any work of construction, such laying of pipes and work connected therewith, or such work of construction shall be so executed as not to obstruct, in any way, the course, capacity or construction of any part of the City's Wastewater System and Stormwater Drainage system, and whenever pipes for any purpose, or any work of construction, are found to exist at such a depth or in such location as to interfere with any existing part of the city's Wastewater system or Stormwater Drainage System, the person maintaining the same, shall, upon notice thereof, at once remove, change or alter such pipe or pipes or other works, in such a manner as the City Engineer may direct.If such person neglects to comply immediately with the terms of such notification the City Engineer may make such removal, change or alternation, and the cost thereof shall be paid by such person; provided, that whenever any sewer is to be constructed, or any water pipe to be laid, in any street or way, the city Engineer and Chief Superintendent of Water works shall consult with each other in regard to the location of any existing pipes.

(Prior code 17—49)

(Ord, 1313, Added, 01/28/2008)

13.16.050 - Discharges—Commissioner's responsibilities.

A. The Commissioner shall promulgate regulations and guidance documents to control the use of the City's Wastewater System and Stormwater Drainage system throughout the city so as to require that no person shall, without prior authorization from the commissioner, uncover, excavate over, block access to, make any connection with or opening into, alter, or disturb, or in any way directly or indirectly use the City's Wastewater System or Stormwater drainage system, to prohibit any person from maliciously, willfully or negligently breaking, damaging, destroying, uncovering, defacing or tampering with any structure, appurtenance, or equipment which is part of the city's Wastewater System or Stormwater Drainage System.Said regulations promulgated by the Commissioner shall require that all activities by users of the City's Wastewater System and Stormwater Drainage System are accomplished in a manner that complies with all federal, state and local laws, regulations and rules n effect and as amended.If any waters or wastes are discharged, or are proposed to be discharged to the City's Wastewater System or Stormwater drainage System, which waters contain substances or possess characteristics prohibited in the Commissioner's regulations and guidance documents or in any and all applicable federal, state or local law, regulation or rule, the Commissioner may:

1. Reject the wastes;

2. Require pretreatment to an acceptable condition for discharge to the City's Wastewater System or Stormwater Drainage System;

3. Require control over the quantities and rates of discharge;

4. Require payment to cover the added cost of handling and treating the wastes not covered by existing taxes or sewer charges, or

5. Take any other enforcement action or response provided in the Commissioner's regulations and guidance documents or pursue any other remedy provided by any applicable federal, state or local law, regulation or rule.

(Ord. 1313, Added, 01/28/2008)

13.16.060 - Inspectors—Powers and authority.

A. The Commissioner or his or her designees bearing proper credentials and identification shall be permitted to enter all properties for the purposes of inspection, observation, measurement, sampling and testing in accordance with the provisions of this ordinance and the regulations and guidance documents promulgated by the Commissioner pursuant to the authority granted to the Commissioner by this ordinance and any and all applicable laws, regulations and rules.

B. The Commissioner or his or her designees bearing proper credentials and identification shall be permitted to enter all private properties through which the City holds a duly negotiated easement for the purposes of, but not limited to, inspection, observation, measurement, sampling, repair and maintenance of any portion of the sewage or stormwater works lying within such easement.All entry and subsequent work, if any, on such easement, shall be done in full accordance with the terms of the duly negotiated easement pertaining to the private property involved.

(Ord. 1007 (part), 1984: prior code § 17-58)

(Ord. 1313, Added, 01/28/2008)

13.16.070 - Assessments — Wastewater System prerequisite.

No owner of land or buildings or any portion of land or buildings shall be assessed for a Wastewater System benefit until said land or buildings can be drained into the Wastewater System and no such land or buildings or portion of such land or buildings shall be assessed more than once for the same sewer benefit.

(Prior code § 17-50)

(Ord. 1313, Added, 01/28/2008)

13.16.080 - Annual Wastewater System use charge.

There is established an annual charge for the use of the City's Wastewater System by any land or buildings in the City having one or more connection discharging into said Wastewater System.

A. The City Manager shall annually recommend to the City Council, a just and equitable Wastewater System service charge based on water supplied to, delivered to, and received by any land or buildings that drain to the Wastewater system, determined by metered water consumption an/or other applicable standards for computation of water supplied, delivered or received by said land or buildings.The charge shall take into account all appropriate Wastewater System related estimated revenues and available surpluses, and shall produce sufficient revenue to equal or exceed the annual appropriations proposed for Wastewater System operation, maintenance and debt service.the city Council shall adopt annually the Wastewater system service charge.

B. The quantity of water supplied by the City through a water meter in good working order shall be determined by the reading of such meter.The owner of land or buildings or any portion of land or buildings that drain to the Wastewater System receiving or using water supplied to, delivered to, or received by any source other than the City shall so notify the Commissioner in accordance with regulation promulgated by the Commissioner pursuant to the authority granted to the Commissioner by this ordinance any any and all applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations and rules.Where water is not supplied by the City, but derived or received by said land or buildings from another source, and/or water is used by said land or buildings in such a manner as to enter the Wastewater System of the City, such water shall be measured by one or more water meters in good working order installed and maintained on the land or buildings by the owner, at the expense of the owner, subject to inspection and approval by the Commissioner. The quantity of water so derived or received, or the quantity of water so used, or both, shall be determined by the readings of such meter or meters.Alternatively, at the discretion of the Commissioner, the quantity of all other water delivered to or received by land or buildings shall be established by the Commissioner by any reasonable and equitable method apt in the circumstances of the particular case to determine the quantity of water discharged by said land or buildings into the Wastewater System of the City.

C. An owner of land or buildings may apply to the Commissioner for an abatement of said Wastewater System charge if water so supplied, derived or received is used on said land or in said buildings in such a manner as not to enter the Wastewater System of the City. Determination of the charge established by this Section shall be adjusted to reflect the quantity so used deducted from the aggregate amount of water so supplied. derived or received during such period.

D. In no case shall the minimum annual charge for Wastewater System use under the provisions of this chapter be less than ten dollars.

E. The charges established by this Section shall be due and payable by the owner of record at such time or times and in such installments if any, as the Commissioner from time to time determines.The Commissioner shall in his or her order of assessment designate as the owner of a parcel assessed, the person who was liable to assessment therefor on the preceding January 1st.

F. A monthly interest charge of one and on-half percent shall be assessed on the balance of any sewer service use charge remaining unpaid after thirty days from the date of billing. Nonpayment upon such date shall furthermore be deemed to be delinquent and thereafter such delinquency shall constitute a lien upon the real estate for which such service is supplied.The city Treasurer-Collector is authorized and directed to file sworn statements showing such delinquencies in the office of the Recorder of Deeds of Middlesex County, and the filing of such statements shall be deemed notice of the lien of such charges for such services.

(Ord. 1007 (part), 1984: prior code § 17-62)

(Ord. 1313, Added, 01/28/2998)

13.16.090 - Property destruction prohibited.

In addition to all penalties and remedies available to the Commissioner pursuant to the regulations and guidance documents promulgated pursuant to the authority of this ordinance and provided in any other applicable federal, state or local law, regulation or rule, no unauthorized person shall maliciously, willfully or negligently break, damage, destroy, uncover, deface or tamper with any structure, appurtenance or equipment which is a part of the City's Wastewater System or Stormwater Drainage System.Any person violating this provision shall be subject to immediate arrest under charge of disorderly conduct.

(Ord. 1007 (part), 1984: prior code § 17-60)

(Ord. 1313, Added, 01/28/2008)

13.16.100 - Violation — Penalty

A. Any person found to be violating any of the provisions of the regulations and guidance documents promulgated by the Commissioner pursuant to the authority granted to the Commissioner by this ordinance and by any and all applicable federal, state or local laws, regulations or rules, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and on conviction thereof, shall be fined in the amount not exceeding $5,000.00 dollars for each violation. Each day in which any such violation continues shall be deemed a separate offense.

B. Any person violating any of the provisions of the regulations and guidance documents promulgated by the Commissioner pursuant to the authority granted to the Commissioner by this ordinance and by any and all other applicable federal, state or local laws, rules or regulations shall become liable to the City for any expense, loss or damage occasioned the City by reason of such violation.

LINKS:

Stormwater Homepage

Stormwater Ordinance