Dedham Cleaning up Stormwater for Mother Brook

Planned BMPs will help to reduce pollution, including bacteria, from reaching Mother Brook.


Mother Brook in Dedham

Thanks to a grant from MassDEP and EPA, Dedham is planning to construct three stormwater treatment structures (also known as Best Management Practices, or BMPs) on town property.  NepRWA partnered with the town to apply for and secure this funding.

The BMPs include bioretention cells (similar to rain gardens), a subsurface infiltration system, and a water quality swale.  Each of these structures will allow runoff water to filter through the ground and be naturally treated by plants and soil, rather than running straight into Mother Brook and carrying pollution with it.


An example of a bioretention area in a parking lot (photo from

Mother Brook, the Neponset River, and the Charles River in Dedham are all listed as impaired waterbodies for a variety of pollutants, including bacteria and nutrients, such as nitrogen and phosphorus, by MassDEP.

Data from our Citizen’s Water Monitoring Network (CWMN) shows that Mother Brook has high levels of bacteria when it rains.  This presents a risk of illness to anyone boating, fishing, or swimming in the water.  Additionally, nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus have been high, which can lead to other issues such as harmful algal blooms and low dissolved oxygen.  Algae blooms can produce toxins that can make people and pets sick, and when the algae dies and decays, it consumes the oxygen in the water that the fish need to breathe.

The proposed treatment structures will capture the runoff and remove up to 90% of pollution from the tributary area before the stormwater makes its way to Mother Brook!

Construction is expected to take place this fall on Colburn Street, Avery Street, and Sawmill Lane.


August 2015 

Sarah Bounty, Environmental Engineer

2 responses to “Dedham Cleaning up Stormwater for Mother Brook”

  1. cindy kaplan says:

    I just moved to Mother Brook condos and the brook behind my home was rushing and looked great but this summer the water is stagnant and the area is over grown by vines. invasive species and poison ivy. My neighbor told me about the invasive species, It looks like a jungle environment. Brooks need clearing.

    • Ian Cooke says:

      Hi Cindy,

      The town is doing a repair on the dam up stream at Colburn Street which may account for any change in water levels that you are seeing. The Mother Brook Coalition usually does a cleanup along the brook in the fall, though I haven’t heard anything about it this year yet.

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