Stormwater pollution is one of the biggest problems facing the Neponset River Watershed. It comes when rainwater runs off of pavement, buildings and other impervious surfaces, picking up pet waste, fertilizers, trash and sediment before (in most places) being discharged directly to the nearest stream, untreated.
So it’s fitting that we’ve been very busy with our stormwater program in many towns across the watershed this winter and spring.
We use a number of strategies to tackle the stormwater problem, the main ones are:
- Our Hotspot Monitoring Program collects samples from stormdrain outfalls to try to locate areas where cross connections between stormdrains and sewers bring sewage to the river. Then we work with communities to get these problems repaired.
- Our Stormwater Retrofit Program works with towns and private landowners to identify locations where stormwater can be intercepted and filtered through soil, plants, beneficial bacteria, and fungi to help remove pollutants. We then often work with partners to construct the retrofitted treatment facilities.
- Our Neponset Stormwater Partnership, provides technical assistance to help our local municipalities comply with their stormwater permit requirements from the the US Environmental Protection Agency.
There’s been a tremendous amount of activity over the last few months in each of these areas. Some of the highlights include:
- Securing a grant to help Milton install stormwater treatment devices along Wendell Park Brook, which is a tributary of Pine Tree Brook.
- Organizing a workshop for municipal officials on best practices for reviewing stormwater permit applications from local developers, and another planned for updating zoning bylaws, to encourage better stormwater management.
- Wrapping up a project with the Town of Dedham that funded construction of three stormwater retrofits along Mother Brook.
- Preparing an updated model stormwater bylaw for municipalities, and providing Medfield with technical assistance on drafting the revised stormwater bylaw that was approved at Town Meeting this spring.
- Working with Siemens Healthcare in Walpole, to help them re-design their existing stormwater treatment facilities and substantially improve the level of stormwater treatment they are achieving to better protect Traphole Brook.
- Ongoing work with the Town of Stoughton to construct new stormwater treatment facilities at the Gibbons School, using grant funds secured by NepRWA.
- Preparing preliminary designs for new stormwater retrofits at six town-owned properties in Westwood, Dedham and Stoughton.
- Helping Canton design stormwater treatment facilities at the Luce School and a ball field parking lot, and apply for construction grant funds.
- Evaluating dozens of potential stormwater treatment retrofit opportunities in Foxborough and other communities.
Across the Neponset Watershed, stormwater is huge water quality problem. Most development in our area was built before the advent of modern rules requiring effective measures to remove stormwater pollutants. As a result, the runoff from most roads and parking lots are contributing to the problem.
We have been pleased to see so much activity on stormwater management over the last year. Its been keeping our small staff extremely busy and it’s a great start on our long term goal of restoring a healthy Neponset River that flows naturally and meets fishable swimmable water quality standards.