Storm Water Management

Stormwater Plan Updated in 2023

The Town Board approved an updated stormwater management plan and related ordinances at their June 7, 2023, meeting. The plan, presentation, and related ordinances were drafted by Strand & Associates, and reviewed by WDNR before Town Board approval. The Town was successful in obtaining a $54,000 grant to help offset 50% of the costs related to the Stormwater Plan update.

To view the presentation and plan, click on the links below:

Presentation: June 7, 2023

Stormwater Management Plan

Erosion Control Plan & Reference Guide

Related Approved Ordinances:

Ordinance 2023-9: Illicit Discharges

Ordinance 2023-10: Construction Site & Erosion Control

Ordinance 2023-11: Post Construction Stormwater Management


Illicit Discharges

Keep the Town of Cedarburg safe by preventing stormwater pollution and illicit discharges. An illicit discharge is a substance other than stormwater that is released to a storm drain, storm sewer, or other drainage system that directs to a lake or river. These substances are considered “illicit”, or banned, because they are hazardous to our water resources. Examples of illicit discharges can include sanitary waste water, effluent from septic tanks, lawn fertilizers, vehicle fluids, paints, concrete, and other hazardous wastes. You can learn more about illicit discharges, how to identify and prevent them, and how to properly dispose of hazardous wastes by clicking here.

Think that you’ve identified an illicit discharge in our community? Call us at 262-377-4509 extension 1 for the Director of Public Works.

Septic Replacement / Rehabilitation Grants

The Wisconsin Fund Program provides grants to homeowners and owners of small businesses that need to replace a failing private onsite wastewater treatment system with a new system. A farm of 35 acres or more may also be considered a small business. Click here to find out more about this program, including eligibility and the application process.


The Town submits an annual MS4 permit to meet reporting requirements on activities undertaken pursuant to the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System general permit. The report is due to the WDNR by March 31st of each year to report on activities of the previous year.


In 2024, the Town of Cedarburg received a Non-point Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. This is a permit with the goal of reducing pollution, mainly the amount of dirt, sand, and other debris, called total suspended solids, that is collected in rain water runoff and eventually gets to Cedar Creek or the Milwaukee River. Several other communities along Cedar Creek and the Milwaukee River are under similar permits. As part of the permit, the Town updated their stormwater quality management plan, which outlines requirements for the Town, private development, and even individual landowners to control the pollutants in runoff.

There are three components to the stormwater quality management plan.

The first component is a post-construction stormwater management plan (Ordinance 2023-11). This plan is generally required when a development or improvement will have a large area of impervious, or non-absorbing, surfaces such as building roofs or paved parking lots after construction. If a development will result in more than 10% of the site being impervious a management plan is required (see reference guide). This plan is designed to reduce the amount of rain runoff from site that equals the amount of runoff if the site was completely left undeveloped. The most common way to reduce this runoff is to create a pond that will hold rain runoff and release it to ditches or streams at slow rate. Holding the water for a time allows the total suspended solids to settle out and let clean water into the ditches, streams, wetlands, and lakes. Another method to control runoff is to construct a rain garden. These gardens are small shallow ponds often planted with native Wisconsin plants. The gardens will collect water from downspouts, sump pumps, or parking lots, hold the water and let it seep into the ground. This method purifies the runoff through filtration and can help regenerate groundwater. The Town constructed a demonstration rain garden at Town Hall. A third method for controlling stormwater is through the use of rain barrels. These barrels are placed at the discharge point of a downspout to collect the runoff from the roof. The water is then recycled, used to water lawns, and gardens. Rain barrels may be ordered through Ozaukee County.

The second component to the stormwater management plan is to control sediment that runs off from construction sites. To accomplish this almost all construction requires an erosion control permit. This permit defines the methods that will be used to control erosion from a construction site and lists a plan to maintain the controls (see reference guide). Anyone doing work on their property that involves grading or moving ground, should contact Town Hall to check if an erosion control permit is required.

The third component of stormwater management is to reduce and ultimately eliminate toxic or environmentally harmful elements, known as illicit discharges (Ordinance 2023-9), from getting into the lakes, wetlands, and streams. Examples of illicit discharges are chemical spills, gasoline, oil, and antifreeze, soap and detergent, and liquid food wastes, such as milk and cooking oil. Town staff does periodic surveys of key discharge points near wetlands, streams, and lakes to check for these discharges. If they are found, the Town will try to determine where the illicit discharge came from and will levy fines and possibly press criminal charges on those responsible. This is one area where you can assist the Town. If you notice water in your ditch looks milky, has a rainbow-like sheen on the surface, or there is a strong odor from the ditch, please contact Town Hall at (262) 377-4509.

The illicit discharge ordinance also requires new or replaced sump pump and roof drain outlets to be at least ten feet from a property line. Ditches and drainage ways generally follow property lines and keeping the discharge point back from these drainage ways allows for some removal of suspended solids and prevents erosion of and sediment build-up in the ditches.


There are a number of services provided by the Town that deal with stormwater management. The first of these services is maintenance of the ditches along Town roads and public drainage easements. The Public Works department regrades or cleans out thousands of feet of ditches to improve the flow in the ditch, and to reduce a flooding potential to properties along the ditches. Ditching is completed as needed and typically the Town has an annual backlog of work to complete each year due to 99% of the township utilizing ditches as the primary source for stormwater collection and movement.


Stormwater management also involves maintenance of the culverts. There are three types of culverts. Cross-culverts convey water from a ditch on one side of a road to a ditch, wetland, lake or stream on the other side of the road. These culverts are maintained by the Town and are replaced if they are damaged, undersized, or no longer functioning properly. If you think a cross culvert in your neighborhood might need replacing, please call Town Hall at (262) 377-4509.

The second type of culvert is the driveway culvert. These culverts are placed in the ditch, under a driveway. These culverts are the responsibility of the property owner to maintain and replace if they are no longer functioning. Installation of a new culvert, lengthening, or replacement of an existing culvert requires a permit from the Town. The cost for this permit can be found on the Town fee schedule, and the application can be accessed by clicking here. The Director of Public Works (or Town consulting Engineer) will survey the site, determine the need for a culvert, what size is needed, and set grades for the culvert. After the culvert is installed the Director of Public Works or Engineer will verify the grades and, if the culvert is correctly installed, approve the installation. For new home construction, this process must be completed before the Town will release the Building Permit. When a Town road is scheduled to be reconstructed or repaved, the Director of Public Works/Engineer will survey all the driveway culverts along that road. If a driveway culvert is undersized, deteriorated or not functioning properly, the Town will replace that culvert prior to the roadwork. Replacement of the culvert may require re-grading of the ditch, which is also done by the Town. All this work, along with most paving and restoration, is done at no cost to the property owner.

The third type of culvert is a temporary culvert. If a property owner needs temporary access to another part of his/her property, he/she may obtain a temporary culvert permit. This permit allows the owner to place a minimum 12 inch culvert in the flow line of a ditch, and place gravel over it to create a temporary access to the property. Once the owner no longer needs the access, the gravel and culvert are removed and the owner must restore the ditch to its original condition. There is a permit fee required for this installation. The permit can be found online and the fee can be paid at Town Hall.

Plan Description Description Plan Document
Town of Cedarburg Erosion Control and Stormwater Management Reference Guide This document presents the technical and performance standards for stormwater management associated with land division, and erosion and sediment control associated with construction sites. Erosion Control and Stormwater Management Reference Guide
Town of Cedarburg Stormwater Quality Management Plan This report provides an overview of current stormwater management, infrastructure, policies and programs in the Town of Cedarburg and provides a plan for future stormwater management improvements. This report is a requirement of the Town's Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System "WPDES" permit issued by the DNR. Copies are available at Town Hall. Please call ahead if you would like a copy. Stormwater Quality Management Plan
Stormwater Quality Management Plan Summary This PowerPoint presentation summarizes the Town's stormwater quality management plan and was presented to the Town Board at their June 7, 2023 meeting. Stormwater Quality Management Plan Summary PowerPoint
WPDES Permit This is the Town of Cedarburg's General Permit to discharge to waters of the State under the Wisconsin Pollution Discharge Elimination System. WPDES Permit

Stormwater & Erosion Control Permit Applications

Application Link
Stormwater Management Permit Application Click Here
Stormwater Maintenance Agreement (Sample) Click Here
Stormwater Management Plan Financial Guarantee (Sample) Click Here
Construction Site Erosion Control Permit Application Click Here
Application Checklists & Summary Tables Click Here