Why Stormwater Management?

Imagine all of the services and activities that happen at your marina. Many of them — boat maintenance, chemical and fuel storage, bottom washing — produce dust, debris, and drips that fall to the ground with contaminants like heavy metals and oil. Eventually all these pollutants end up in the lake untreated via the storm drain with no benefit to the marina or water quality.

Marinas offer a “last chance” opportunity to treat and manage stormwater runoff before it enters the Great Lakes. Clean Marina Programs provide education and technical assistance to help marinas implement stormwater improvements to keep our lakes clean. And we all know that clean lakes are good for business!

Clean Marina Stormwater Best Management Practices

When it rains or snows, precipitation that has not been absorbed by the ground washes over the landscape, often collecting pollution on the way. At a marina, this landscape may include parking lots, lift wells, vehicle maintenance areas, dry rack storage buildings, and vessel wash-down areas. Stormwater mapping is a great first step to knowing where your water is, identifying what marina activities could contaminate that water, and finding opportunities to improve that water before it reaches its final destination – the Great Lakes. By then putting stormwater best management practices (BMPs) in the proper location, you allow for collection and treatment of runoff both from your marina activities and from surrounding areas. The Clean Marina Stormwater Toolkit seeks to help you better understand the range of stormwater “BMPs” available to you as a marina owner, and to provide you with the resources needed to implement these practices at your location.

Going Green With Stormwater Management

Using nature-based techniques, like green infrastructure, to manage stormwater at your marina can provide significant benefits such as minimizing water pollution into the lake, eliminating nuisance flooding, and improving aesthetics. Depending on the municipality, marinas could potentially also receive stormwater utility credits for the installation of green infrastructure.

Last but not least, because green infrastructure is very visible — think summer flowers, rain barrels, and eye-pleasing pavers — it is an easy way to show off to your customers and the community that your marina cares about keeping the Great Lakes clean.

Rain Garden

Depressed areas with engineered soils and native and/or long-rooted plants to collect stormwater that allow it to be stored, be taken up by plants, or infiltrate into the ground.

Green roof

Roofs designed with a waterproof membrane, drainage system, and a layer of plants to capture and absorb water.

Bioswales and Hybrid Ditches

Shallow channels designed with engineered soils, an underdrain, and planted with grass or native plants that help slow stormwater, filter out pollutants, and allow water to soak into the ground.


Grassy, landscaped, or native planted strips that intercept stormwater and debris from paved areas to prevent pollutants from going directly into a waterbody.