Communities are faced with damages to drinking water supplies, lakes, rivers and streams caused by stormwater runoff. When it rains, the “first flush” of runoff from roads, driveways, sidewalks, lawns and parking lots, carries pollutants that harm community uses of water and poison aquatic life. Oil, grease, heavy metals, lawn chemicals, sand and salt are washed into underground pipe systems that pour pollutants directly into water bodies.
Fortunately, low impact approaches can be used to treat stormwater near its source. Methods such as rain gardens, vegetated buffers and tree box filters capture stormwater and infiltrate it into the soil where the water is detained and cleansed.
The Massachusetts Watershed Coalition has created A Community Guide to Growing Greener, a set of guidelines for designers, developers and community boards. It will help local builders, businesses and community residents to use effective, low-cost measures to prevent runoff from harming water supplies and habitats. This guidance will also help to attract development that can protect the Town’s character and its valuable natural resources.
The Guide describes design and construction practices for stormwater management, erosion and sedimentation control, landscape design and site planning. This Guide will also be useful to communities required to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Phase II stormwater regulations.
Community boards can use the Guide in the development and redevelopment process. Because many of these practices are less costly to install than traditional large-pipe stormwater systems, developers find them attractive to use. Thus municipalities can reduce stormwater pollution at little cost to the community.