Parking lot and roadway runoff from the Gibbons School property in Stoughton currently discharges to Woods Pond and a small tributary of Steep Hill Brook with little or no treatment to remove contaminants such as sand, fertilizers, oil and bacteria. The $137,000 in funds recently announced by the Baker Administration, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection and the US Environmental Protection Agency will allow the school grounds to be upgraded with modern stormwater controls.
The Grant was written by the Watershed Association in collaboration with the Stoughton Engineering Department. The project grew out of an earlier collaboration between the two organizations in which NepRWA secured grant funding to evaluate opportunities to reduce polluted stormwater runoff by retrofitting town owned roadways and parking lots.
Cleaning up Stoughton’s Stormwater
The project will involve building two bioretention cells and an infiltration basin. The bioretention cells are areas where parking lot runoff will be collected and filtered through plants and a specialized type of soil to remove pollution and partially recharge groundwater.
The infiltration basin is a grassy area where stormwater will be collected and stored temporarily so it can soak into the ground. The soil will filter out pollutants and then the water will return to the groundwater table where it will flow slowly toward nearby wetlands, helping to keep local streams cool and flowing through the dry summer months.
The total cost for the project will be $236,000 with $137,000 coming from the grant and the remainder coming in the form of an “in-kind” match of services provided by the Town. The Stoughton Engineering Department will take the lead in preparing the final designs for the project and managing the construction process, while staff from the Stoughton Department of Public Works will do most of the construction. The Watershed Association will help manage the grant process and will also conduct public outreach related to the project.
Getting Started with Stormwater Retrofitting
Stormwater is the widespread scourge of water quality for the Neponset and its tributaries. On developed parcels there are many different techniques known as “stormwater best management practices” or “BMPs” that can be used to intercept and cleanup polluted runoff from roads and parking lots before it gets discharged to local streams.
One of the biggest challenges for older communities like Stoughton and others in the Neponset Valley is that most existing development predates relatively recent rules requiring developers to apply these techniques when they build.
The solution is “retrofitting” or upgrading existing sites to add stormwater management features over time as buildings, parking lots, roads and other paved areas are maintained and redeveloped.
Long Term Benefits for More than Water Quality
In addition to cleaner water, the project will give the staff of the Stoughton Engineering Department and DPW a chance to work together during a hands-on project, which can serve as a dry run for updating stormwater features at other properties around town. Eventually retrofitting in other areas will be required under rules for municipalities being issued by the US Environmental Protection Agency. By partnering with the Watershed Association now, the town is able to be proactive in getting ready for these future requirements, as well as protecting the town’s natural resources, all with the help of outside grant funding.
The project will also serve as an educational resource for the community, helping to raise awareness about the need to update stormwater infrastructure to prevent flooding, protect drinking water supplies and protect fish and wilflife habitats.
Another Success for Our Stormwater Program
Over the last decade the Watershed Association has been working to get all of our towns more activley engaged in reducing stormwater pollution. We have worked with seven towns so far to identify potential stormwater retrofit projects, and so far have secured state funding for four such retrofit demonstration projects in Milton, Dedham and now Stoughton. In all these projects have involved more than 1.25 million dollars of work.
In coming years, we hope to see construction move forward on retrofit opportunities that have been identified in Walpole, Sharon, Canton and Westwood as well. These stormwater retrofit projects are an important part of our comprehensive strategy to reduce stormwater pollution across the watershed on both public and private property.
Take Action at Home and at Work
Local residents and businesses can utilize simplified versions of some of these techniques to help intercept and cleanup stormwater pollution on their own properties. The key to managing polluted runoff is to get it off of paved areas and onto lawns, raingardens, and other areas where it can be filtered and soaked back into the ground.