What is Stormwater?

Stormwater is water that drains off a land area during and after precipitation events. Water that does not soak into the ground becomes surface runoff (stormwater). It usually picks up pollutants such as dirt, trash, oil, grease, pet waste, chemicals, and any other pollutants as it flows over roads and lawns. It then flows into waterways either directly or indirectly through stormwater pipes and outlets. All stormwater, and the pollutants it carries, ends up untreated in our local waterways.

Rubber duck floating down gutter with running water

What does the Division of Environmental Storm Water Management do?

Uncontrolled stormwater runoff has many cumulative impacts on humans and the environment. If not properly managed, the volume of stormwater can flood and damage homes and businesses, erode stream channels and shorelines, damage or destroy fish and wildlife habitat, and pollute our waterways and the Chesapeake Bay. Storm Water manages multiple programs to fulfill its mission of improving water quality and minimizing flooding.


Maintenance, daily functions and management of Norfolk's Storm Water systems which includes:

  • BMP Maintenance: Maintenance of stormwater best management practices (BMPs) such as wet ponds, dry ponds, infiltration trenches, etc. on properties that drain water from City right-of-ways. Maintenance includes cleaning and repairing structures, cutting vegetation, dredging, etc.
  • Ditch Maintenance: Maintenance of non-tidal city-owned roadside and off-road ditches, in the City right-of-way, by ensuring the flow line is clear by removing trash and overgrown vegetation. Ditches may periodically be regraded to ensure proper drainage. Property owners, whose property drains to private ditches, are responsible for their maintenance.
  • Floodwall/Gate Maintenance and Operations: The downtown floodwall is 1644 ft. long with the gates opened and 1801 feet long with the gates closed. The five gates work in conjunction with one of our pump stations to protect Norfolk's downtown area from tidal and precipitation events.
  • Lot Cleaning: Illegal dumping on city-owned property is prevalent in the city. The Division maintains crews to clean illegal dumping on city vacant lots, city right-of-way, dead ends, and underpasses.
  • Storm Water Pump Stations: Maintenance of 16 pump stations throughout the City to reduce flooding in low lying areas such as underpasses. Daily inspections and routine maintenance is performed on the pump stations. The Department of Public Works continuously performs major maintenance on these systems each year by replacing pumps, rehabilitating the stations, and upgrading electrical systems.
  • Street Sweeping: The City of Norfolk has the most extensive street sweeping program in the region. We sweep all streets in the city, with curb and gutters on a rotating basis. Downtown Norfolk is swept on a daily basis. Other cities in the region only sweep their streets once or twice a year, and even then it usually is only major roadways.
  • Structure Repair and Maintenance: Routine maintenance and cleaning of the stormwater system that is comprised of underground pipes, drop inlets, and catch basins. During structural failure, staff will make necessary repairs.
  • Grocery Cart Collection: The Division is responsible for removing abandoned shopping carts throughout the city.

Street Sweeping

Street Sweeping is responsible for sweeping all streets with curb and gutter.


Environmental Regulatory

Environmental Regulatory manages Norfolk's stormwater discharge permit and supporting programs.


Engineering is responsible for planning, designing, and building water quality and water quantity projects city-wide.

Green Infrastructure Plan
Green infrastructure consists of our marshes, creeks, parks and trees that provide habitat, filter the air and water, moderate air temperatures, and provide recreation and scenic beauty. Learn more about the City's plan to help 'design the coastal community of the future' by using these natural assets to improve environmental and community health and to protect infrastructure, such as roads and buildings. 

Education & Outreach

Education and Outreach provides educational campaigns and programs to residents.

Stormwater Fees

Stormwater fees are the monthly fees residents and businesses pay that provide a dedicated funding source in order to cover the cost of the above programs.

Have a comment you would like to submit about a service request that was performed by a stormwater employee or crew? You can provide feedback through our online Customer Satisfaction Survey.