Portland Breakwater Lighthouse (Bug Light) in South Portland. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The Urban Runoff 5K is being held this month as a fundraiser for the Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District’s youth education program. People can participate in the event through a course on their own in the month of April, or join the district’s timed event in South Portland on April 22.

The district is partnering with 14 greater Portland and Saco municipalities to meet portions of their storm water permit requirements.

“The storm water permit requires that municipalities make their residents and businesses aware of common storm water issues and ways to reduce storm water pollution through events like this one and many other education and outreach efforts,” said Educator and Outreach Coordinator Ali Clift, of Cumberland County Soil & Water Conservation District.

This year will be the 12th annual Urban Runoff 5K race.

“It started as a way to raise clean water education funds so the district can provide free and discounted lessons to schools in the region and to help raise awareness of common storm water pollutants and ways people can help protect our local waterbodies that we use for recreating, fishing, and some as drinking sources,” Clift said.

Participating municipalities include Scarborough, Saco, South Portland, Portland, Gorham, Yarmouth, and many more.


“People can get involved a couple ways,” Clift said. “They can participate in the timed racecourse at the Southern Maine Community College campus in South Portland on April 22 at 9 a.m. They can also volunteer on April 22 to help support our participants before, during, and after the race.

“If they can’t join us on Earth Day, they can participate virtually by moving 3.1 miles (5K) anytime during the month of April and sharing their experience with us (@cumberlandswcd #urbanrunoff5k #ur5k) or emailing us at connect@cumberlandswcd.org. In person, virtual, and volunteer signups can be completed at www.urbanrunoff2023.racewire.com.”

For  more information, visit www.urbanrunoff5k.org, which explains participant engagement, awards, and more on the cause of clean water education in southern Maine.

“We hope that participants and volunteers will learn about the importance of storm water management, as this environmental issue operates largely unnoticed in our everyday lives,” Clift said. “However, everyone’s actions can directly impact the health of their water and community. The race itself it also a wonderful way to get everyone outside in their community together, meet each other, and make connections with each other over this larger connection we all share, the health of our water, all while in view of Casco Bay.

“We hope folks will continue conversations and actions around promoting clean water, educating their neighbors, and maybe even exploring further opportunities in the community to make an impact — like beach and trail clean-ups.”

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