Storm and Surface Waters

The hydrologic cycle carries water all across our world. When it falls as rain on Richfield, it often enters one of our 3,719 catch basins, travels some distance along our 94 miles of storm sewer main, and into one of our 17 ponds or 3 lakes. As rain makes its journey from the streets to the surface waters, it also carries along pollutants from lawns, streets, and gutters. This "non-point source" pollution is the leading form of water pollution in the United States today. See the sections below to learn about the City's approach to fighting non-point source pollution and how you can make a difference. Also check out this ArcGIS storymap for more information!
Photo credit: John Glavan
The Stormwater Pollution Prevention Program (SWPPP) outlines the City's methods for reducing pollution in stormwater, and is required in order to comply with Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's General Permit for Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4 General Permit). The actions that the City takes are categorized into 6 Minimum Control Measures (MCMs):
  1. Public Education and Outreach
  2. Public Participation/Involvement
  3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
  4. Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
  5. Post-Construction Stormwater Management
  6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
The SWPPP was last updated in 2023 to take into account the latest regulations and best management practices. The City welcomes comment on the SWPPP at any time. Please direct any questions or comments on the SWPPP to Mattias Oddsson: 
Click here to view the previous (2015) SWPPP.
Click here to view the current SWPPP.


The term 'illicit discharge' refers to any discharge to the storm sewer system that is not entirely composed of stormwater (with the exception of a few permitted non-stormwater discharges). Since storm sewers lead directly to surface waters without any treatment, any pollutants entering the storm sewer system will ultimately end up in a surface water. Common pollutants include hydrocarbons (motor oil, gasoline), organic material (leaves, yard waste), pet waste, and litter. The City depends on its field staff and residents to report instances of illicit discharge. If you observe an illicit discharge, please notify the Water Resources Engineer, Mattias Oddsson: (612) 861-9797 or

The Surface Water Management Plan (SWMP) outlines the City's plan for managing our stormwater and water resources. This document helps to inform policy decisions, water resource management, implementation priorities, and capital improvement budgeting to address water resource issues. Click here to view the SWMP.



A watershed is an area of land in which the majority of precipitation that falls drains to a common outlet, such as a stream or a lake. Watershed boundaries are generally at points of high elevation, so that the land forms a sort of basin or bowl. Watersheds are managed by Watershed Districts, a special purpose unit of local government which oversees water resources within their boundary. A watershed-level management approach is useful for addressing flooding, pollution, and other issues in a given area.
Richfield falls within the boundaries of three separate watersheds:

City rain garden guidance

Stormwater Design Standards
Water cycle glossary and resources for educators