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Stormwater Utility

Introduction and Background

In October 2000, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) authorized Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to implement the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) stormwater permitting program in Florida. This Program regulates point source discharges of stormwater into surface waters from municipal facilities, and from industrial/construction activities. The NPDES permit requires that the City of Cape Canaveral (City) develop/implement strategies for reducing pollutants in stormwater runoff; thereby, improving overall water quality. The primary method of attaining these goals is through implementation of Best Management Practices (BMPs), which include:

  • Public Education: Requires the City educate the public concerning stormwater issues;
  • Public Involvement/Participation: Requires the City involve the public in the stormwater management process;
  • Illicit Discharges: Requires the City implement a monitoring and enforcement program to identify and eliminate illicit discharges to the storm sewer system;
  • Runoff Control – Construction Sites: Requires the City monitor and enforce regulations limiting the amount of stormwater runoff from active construction sites;
  • Runoff Control – Post-Construction: Requires the City monitor and enforce regulations limiting the amount of stormwater runoff from completed construction projects; and
  • Pollution Prevention: Requires the City monitor and enforce regulations concerning the illegal discharge of pollutants to the storm sewer system.

The City maintains a NPDES permit and implements the six required BMPs. To assist in implementation, as well as funding of stormwater improvement projects, a Stormwater Utility was established by City Council in 2003. The Stormwater Utility ensures that dedicated funding is available for the (1) management/treatment of stormwater runoff and (2) performance of facility maintenance of the storm sewer system.

Stormwater Utility Staff are located at the Public Works Services Facility and City Hall. Questions and comments can be addressed to Jeff Ratliff, Capital Projects Director, at (321) 868-1223 or via email at

Functions of the Stormwater Utility

  1. Improve and maintain water quality through effective stormwater management strategies.
  2. Maintain infrastructure integrity to protect public safety and private property.
  3. Provide a high level of customer service and communication to the public/private sectors.

The City’s current stormwater system is comprised of the following:

  • 377 storm drains
  • 6 outfall structures
    • West Central Boulevard
    • Wastewater Treatment Plant
    • Central Ditch
    • International Drive
    • Center Street
    • Holman Road
  • 6.0 miles of storm sewer pipe

The Stormwater Utility is supported by an assessment of $96 in 2019 for the typical residential property. The fee for large, multi-unit properties, as well as commercial and industrial properties, is based on the size of the property and the amount of impervious area that inhibits percolation of stormwater (including asphalt, concrete and structures). The City’s monthly fee formula is based upon the standard “Equivalent Residential Unit” (ERU). Using a median impervious area of residential condominium parcels, the City computed an “ERU value” of 2,074 square feet, which is used to calculate the number of ERUs attributable to each tax parcel.

In general, the monthly fee formula is as follows:

Property Type

ERU/Stormwater Utility Fee

Mobile Homes

0.79 ERU ($6.32)

Single-Family Residential Flat Rate      

1.00 ERU ($8.00 for the average home)

Multi-Family Residential

Variable ERU ($8.00 per number of units)


Variable ERU (Impervious area/2,074 square feet x $8.00)      

The City’s ERU structure in 2019 generates approximately $890,000 per year for the funding of stormwater improvement projects through the Stormwater Utility. Other funding sources for stormwater improvement projects include grants awarded through EPA, FDEP, St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD), and other Federal, State and local governmental agencies.

Ordinance Changes

The City has enacted two ordinances with the major goal to further improve stormwater quality. These ordinances include:

  • Illicit Discharges and Connections (NO. 07-2013):This Ordinance further defines illicit connections to the stormwater system; prohibits illicit discharges and connections to the stormwater system; and establishes legal authority to carry out inspection, surveillance and monitoring procedures necessary to ensure compliance.
  • Fertilizer Land Application Ordinance (NO. 17-2013): This Ordinance restricts the use of fertilizers during summer months; identifies fertilizer free zones; defines fertilizer application rates; restricts the type and composition of fertilizers; and establishes training and educational requirements for commercial applicators.

To educate the public about the Fertilizer Land Application Ordinance, the City and the University of Florida — IFAS Extension Office conducted a "My Brevard Yard" seminar, which included a "hands-on" demonstration of fertilizer usage and free property inspections from IFAS staff. City Staff will continue to develop and strengthen ordinances that promote improvements to stormwater quality.

Stormwater Improvement Projects

Selected completed stormwater improvement projects, funded either partially or fully through the City’s Stormwater Utility, include the following:

Completed Projects

  • Beemats Installations —  Beemats, or floating wetlands, were placed in the City-owned retention ponds in 2018 at the Public Works Services Facility (2) and Manatee Sanctuary Park. As the plants grow in the mats/water, nutrients in the water are taken up by the roots and stored in the tissues. Periodic harvesting of the mature plants prevents the sequestered nutrients from re-entering the water when the plants die and decompose. Total cost - $15,000 (funded by Stormwater Utility).
  • Public Works Services Facility Shoreline Stabilization Project — Due to the occurrence of several tropical storms/hurricanes over the past few years, the Banana River shoreline at the Public Works Services Facility experienced significant erosion. Several buildings were in jeopardy of being damaged from potential future storms. Therefore, the shoreline was armored in 2018 with the selected placement of coquina boulders. Existing mangroves were allowed to remain in-place to help secure the shoreline. Total cost - $127,000 (funded by Stormwater Utility).
  • Canaveral City Park Exfiltration System — This project included the installation of over 4,000 underground stormwater chambers to collect and infiltrate stormwater from the surrounding 30-acre urban area. The chambers were installed in 2016 beneath both ballfields and have a storage capacity of over 900,000 gallons. In the near future, excess reclaimed water from the Community Services Facility will be pumped to the chambers in lieu of discharge to the Banana River. Total cost - $1.2 million (funded by 319(h) grant and Stormwater Utility).
  • North Atlantic Avenue Streetscape Bioswales — Construction of the North Atlantic Avenue Streetscape in 2016 included the development of bioswales adjacent to the roadway. These swales collect and infiltrate stormwater instead of allowing runoff to flow to adjacent properties. Total cost - $44,000 (funded by FDOT grant and Stormwater Utility).
  • Baffle Box Upgrade – West Central Boulevard — The baffle box located adjacent to the Central Ditch was upgraded in 2018 to a second generation box with new stainless steel screens and an oil/grease boom. Second generation baffle boxes are much more efficient than first generation baffle boxes and collect up to 50% more floatable debris. Total cost - $47,000 (funded by 319(h) grant and Stormwater Utility).
  • Manatee Sanctuary and Banana River Parks Shoreline Stabilization Project — Due to the occurrence of several tropical storms/hurricanes over the past few years, the Banana River shoreline at Manatee Sanctuary and Banana River Parks experienced significant erosion. The boardwalk at Manatee Sanctuary Park and other infrastructure at both parks were being undercut by wave action. Therefore, the shoreline was armored in 2016 with the selected placement of coquina boulders. Existing mangroves were allowed to remain in-place to help secure the shoreline. Total cost - $165,000 (funded by 319(h) grant and Stormwater Utility).
  • Stormwater Repair (West Central Boulevard) — The major stormwater line along the northern side of West Central Boulevard was repaired in 2015. The existing pipe was coated with a concrete/epoxy material to eliminate groundwater inflow. Total cost - $241,800 (funded by State Revolving Fund [SRF] loan).
  • Manatee Sanctuary/Banana River Parks Stormwater Improvements — Numerous stormwater improvements were constructed at both of these City parks in 2014. At Manatee Sanctuary Park, a wet detention pond was constructed and the existing swale system improved. Stormwater inlets and underground piping were also installed to better drain the park after heavy rainfall events. At Banana River Park, the existing swale system was improved and a new discharge structure was installed. Total cost - $280,000 (funded by Stormwater Utility).
  • Culverting of the North Central Ditch — Four hundred feet of the North Central Ditch located north of West Central Boulevard was improved in 2013. The work included excavation of organic muck in the channel bottom and installation of culverts (reinforced concrete pipe). The culverts were then covered with clean sand and the area landscaped. This area of the Central Ditch was subject to illegal dumping and was an eyesore due to lack of landscaping. Total cost - $370,000 (funded by Stormwater Utility).
  • Improvements to the Southern Portion of the Central Ditch — The City performed infrastructure improvements in 2012 to the southern portion of the Central Ditch. The work included a new headwall; sidewalk; removal of vegetation; excavation of muck from the channel bottom; stabilization of channel banks; and planting of vegetation along the channel banks. The Project assists in flood prevention and improves water quality. Total cost - $98,000 (funded by Stormwater Utility).
  • Harbor Heights Neighborhood — The City replaced the major drainage pipe in the eastern portion of this neighborhood in 2011. Rainfall from Tropical Storm Fay flooded several residences in the site vicinity. The replacement pipe is larger diameter which increases stormwater flow away from the development. Total cost - $88,000 (funded by Stormwater Utility).
  • Stormwater Inlet Replacements — The City continues a long-term program to replace stormwater inlets. The purpose of the new inlets (Type ‘C’) is to increase the flow of stormwater and decrease the amount of vegetative clogging of the inlets. Approximately 20 inlets are changed out each year. Total cost - $3,725 each (funded by Stormwater Utility).
  • Exfiltration Piping — Exfiltration stormwater piping was installed at seven locations throughout the City to alleviate street flooding. The piping allows for collection of stormwater and its infiltration into surficial sediments – thus removing stormwater from the City’s piping system. Additional locations for the exfiltration piping are being investigated.

Future Projects

In 2015, the City updated the Stormwater Master Plan that modeled watersheds and clearly defined runoff boundaries. Based upon results of these computer models, problem areas were identified and recommendations for improvements made. The updated version of the Stormwater Master Plan recommended completion of a number of specific projects to improve stormwater quality and reduce stormwater runoff. Several of these improvement projects are in the planning/design stages and include: (1) construction of stormwater retention ponds in the central and northern portions of the City, (2) installation of exfiltration piping under several mobile home parks located adjacent to the Banana River, (3) construction of bioswales for stormwater exfiltration along planned streetscapes and (4) construction of further improvements to the nutrient-separating baffle boxes.  

Other future projects will depend on a number of factors including: (1) more stringent water quality regulations from FDEP, (2) grant funding availability and (3) local funding availability.

General Projects/Maintenance Activities

Routine stormwater improvement projects and routine maintenance, funded through the City's Stormwater Utility, include the following:

  • Swale Construction — Swales are shallow depressions in grassy areas that collect stormwater and allow percolation into the surficial aquifer. The City constructs swales in runoff problem areas to reduce pollutants and to replenish the surficial aquifer. These swales are typically constructed adjacent to roadways to capture stormwater runoff, thus preserving roadways and reducing flood hazards.  Funding is through the City's Stormwater Utility.
  • Stormwater Drain Maintenance and Repair — The City repairs stormwater drains and performs routine maintenance on an as-needed basis with funding from the City's Stormwater Utility.
  • Street Sweeping — The City provides for monthly street sweeping. All curbs within the City are vacuum-swept once a month, and bike paths and other areas are vacuum-swept on an as-needed basis with funding from the City's Stormwater Utility. The City collected and disposed of over 162 cubic yards of sand/debris in 2015 through its Street Sweeping Program.
  • Baffle Box Cleaning — The City's nine nutrient-separating baffle boxes are cleaned of sand and debris with a vacuum truck on an annual basis with funding from the City's Stormwater Utility. In 2015, over 20 cubic yards of sediment/debris were removed from the boxes. In addition, the City's inmate crew collects floatable debris from the baffle boxes after each storm event (or once per month during drought conditions). The City typically collects and disposes of over 1,000 cubic yards of floatable debris each year.

Frequently Asked Questions
How can I help reduce the pollutants in stormwater runoff?

  • Sweep up leaves and grass clippings that accumulate on driveways, sidewalks and streets.
  • Collect pet waste and dispose of the waste by flushing down a toilet.
  • Redirect roof down spouts from paved areas to grassy areas for percolation to the surficial aquifer.
  • Wash your car on the lawn rather than on the driveway - the nutrient-rich soapy water is good fertilizer for lawns.
  • Plant native landscaping and reduce the amount of grassy areas – native plants require less irrigation, maintenance, fertilizers and pesticides.
  • Dispose of used motor oil, paint and other household hazardous wastes at a designated collection center.
  • Never throw trash or cigarette butts onto the streets where they can enter the storm sewer system.
  • Use fertilizers and pesticides in accordance with the Ordinance passed by the City Council in 2014; fertilizer usage is banned from June 1 through September 30.

How is stormwater runoff treated in the City?

  • Throughout the 50+ years of development in the City, treatment of stormwater runoff has evolved due to environmental regulation. Initially, all of the runoff from buildings, parking lots and roadways was designed to drain into canals or the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) system. In the early-1970s, legislation was passed that aided in the reduction of this pollution. A significant portion of stormwater runoff from the City is polluted with various contaminants and drains directly into the IRL system. The City is planning numerous projects that will re-route stormwater runoff and construct filtering devices to clean stormwater runoff in areas where re-routing or retention is not possible.

Are there laws regulating the discharge of stormwater runoff?

  • Regulations require the reduction of pollutants in stormwater runoff to Florida’s waterways. The Clean Water Act in the early-1970s helped to reduce industrial and wastewater discharges, but did little to address the widespread pollutant loadings from storm sewer systems. In the late-1970s, SJRWMD began requiring that private developments retain a portion of their stormwater runoff on-site. More recently, the EPA passed legislation (NPDES program) that enforces strict stormwater regulations on city and county governments. Additional regulations from FDEP have established pollutant Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDLs) for receiving water bodies. These regulations require city/county governments and other stakeholders to further reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff.

What are the pollutant loadings generated by the City (discharge to the Banana River)? 

  • Total suspended solids – 163,000 lbs/yr.
  • Biological oxygen demand (BOD) – 28,000 lbs/yr.
  • Total phosphorus – 2,030 lbs/yr.
  • Total nitrogen – 8,975 lbs/yr.

Is my property located within a flood zone?

  • The City has two flood zones – “within the 100-year flood zone” and “outside the 100-year flood zone”. These flood zones are based on land elevation, water table elevation, soil types and hydrological flooding information. On the barrier island, storm surge is the most likely source of flood hazards. The flood hazard lines are established by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and can be found on the Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for the City. The FIRMs of our area can be found at the City’s Community Development Department, the City Library and the City’s web page. 
Stormwater Fast Facts

  • Stormwater runoff is the number one threat to water quality of Brevard County waterways.
  • Stormwater runoff is the most significant pollution source of waterways in Florida.
  • The first inch of stormwater runoff transports 90% of pollutants into our waterways.
  • The majority of the stormwater runoff from the City is discharged to the Banana River (a Florida Outstanding Water and part of the IRL system).
  • Over 4,000 species of plants and wildlife are in the IRL system.
  • There are over 2,000 stormwater outfalls draining to the IRL system.
  • Algae blooms are caused by excess nutrients in the water contributed by fertilizers.
  • The “muck” located on the bottom of many waterways is decayed plant matter and organic soil from stormwater runoff.
  • Much of the IRL system’s sea grasses have been destroyed; the sea grass habitats serve as nurseries for many species of fish, crabs and shrimp.
  • The IRL system contributes $730 million per year to the region’s economy.
  • The IRL system is the most popular fishing destination in Florida, with over one million anglers visiting annually.
Additional Resources

To report an illicit discharge to the storm sewer system, please call the Public Works Services Department at (321) 868-1240 or (321) 403-2137 after normal working hours or use the Cape Connect app or the Cape Connect webpage.

Updated: 7/6/20

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