Free rain garden workshop at Leominster Public Library

The Worcester County Conservation District invites you a free program at the Leominster Library on March 17 at 3 pm.  Ed Himlan of the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition will present a slideshow about the design and benefits of rain gardens.

RunoffRemedies intro blog 120413Rain gardens attract birds and butterflies, while protecting local streams and ponds. These gardens are planted with flowers, shrubs and grasses that are easy to maintain and thrive without fertilizers and pesticides.   The slideshow will explain where to place a rain garden, how to select plants and how to keep the garden flourishing as a beautiful accent for your home or business.

Runoff from rain and snow melt is a big problem as forests and fields are replaced by buildings, streets and parking lots. Rain garden plants and soils filter storm water and recycle nutrients that can harm water quality. The bowl-shape design also allows rain to recharge the groundwater that keeps streams healthy during drought conditions.

Spring is the ideal time to create a rain garden. Rain gardens can be placed in sunny or shady locations, and there are many plants that supply food and habitat for wildlife.   Participants will receive a free Pocket Guide with helpful tips about rain gardens and other runoff remedies.  To register for the rain garden workshop, phone Lisa Trotto (508) 829-4477 ext. 5.

This workshop is sponsored by the Worcester County Conservation District seedling program, which has many types of trees, flowers and shrubs for sale.  The plant selections can be viewed at



“Stormwater for Towns” Meeting

Please join us at Mount Wachusett Community College on November 18 (9 – 11:30 am) to consider cost-effective stormwater solutions for cities and towns.

p-4-sw-for-towns-photoPolluted runoff is the leading cause of damages to local waters.  Fortunately, there are efficient ways to fix stormwater problems that impact property, harm aquatic life and spoil uses of streams, lakes and water supplies.

The 11/18 meeting will have expert speakers on runoff remedies, costs of Best Management Practices, EPA municipal (MS4) permits and stormwater assistance programs.  Municipal officials, stormwater committees, highway departments, lake associations, watershed groups and concerned citizens will gain practical guidance to help improve the health of streams and lakes.

This free meeting will include a roundtable discussion of participants views on local stormwater needs.  You can view meeting details and register online at Eventbrite.

For more information, phone (978) 534-0379 or email:  Please forward this invitation to anyone who may be interested – all are welcome.

Tools to Keep Water Healthy

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announces the launch of a new Massachusetts Clean Water Tool Kit website, which serves as the state’s primary public education resource related to nonpoint source pollution.


The Toolkit, developed for MassDEP by Geosyntec Consultants, includes sections focused on the major categories of nonpoint source pollution, 127 fact sheets on best management practices to reduce pollution, and a collection of “Interactive Scenarios” based on Massachusetts landscapes.

The Interactive Scenarios allow users to explore ways to reduce pollution and improve water quality in a variety of highly detailed landscapes that are typical in Massachusetts, including residential, agricultural, urban, roads, construction, and shoreline restoration.

To view the Clean Water Toolkit, go to

Soak Up the Rain Webinars

Learn about innovative stormwater solutions. EPA New England is hosting webinars to help communities Soak Up the Rain.skaneatlles-copy-reduced-637x1024

Webinar participants will:

  • Hear about public outreach resources and programs.
  • See who’s soaking up the rain with green infrastructure.
  • Learn about the latest tools and resources from EPA and others.
  • Share successes, barriers, and lessons learned in New England communities.

The next webinar is “Back to School: Soaking up the Rain at K-12 Schools – Making Connections with Teachers and Students on Green Infrastructure”. This free webinar on October 6th, 3:00 – 4:30 EST, will feature expert speakers that include:

  • Peter Hinrichs, Learning Prep School in Newton, Massachusetts
  • Peter Coffin, the Blackstone River Coalition and Blackstone Headwaters Coalition
  • Molly Allard, Northern Rhode Island Conservation District

You can view the webinar flyer and register online at the EPA Soak Up the Rain website:

Doggy Dos and Don’ts of Summer

Summer is finally coming! But before you grab your dogs and umbrellas and head to the beach, think twice about how you collect and dispose of their waste. Dog and other animal waste account for a large amount of the fecal coliform bacteria found in local water systems. The majority of fecal coliform found in storm water is of non-human origin and in 1991, the EPA actually classified dog poop as a non-point source environmental pollutant. This waste’s harmful composition can then be carried to rivers, beaches and storm drains. Too much can leave swimming areas unsafe for summertime use. Algae and weeds in waterways thrive on the microorganisms in dog waste and are one of many causes of harmful algal blooms.

dog dontA study examining dog waste cleanup for New Hampshire beaches noted that more dog waste was collected from beaches in the winter beach season due to less dog restrictions being in place (an average of 5.1 piles of waste per cleanup as opposed to only 1.5). At Ocean Beach in California, it is believed that animal feces left on the beach were responsible for viruses found to affect human health. Dog restrictions appear to lower the presence of dog waste left behind, though it should be considered common courtesy to always clean up after your dog on any beach.

So what can you and your dogs do to help? Always pick up after your pet, and if you bury your pet waste, be sure to bury it at least five inches deep so rain will not wash the waste and bacteria into local waters. Don’t contribute to watershed pollution because it is too much work – pick up after your pet!


Good time at Earth Day celebration

Families had fun at recent Earth Day event. The hands-on Enviroscape display in photo showed why stormwater harms lakes and streams, as well as how to prevent polluted runoff.  Children and parents also liked seeing how water easily flowed thru a porous concrete demo into a pail below.  And children enjoyed planting seeds and brought the pots home to watch their rain garden plants grow.

Earth Day follow up blog

Other unique activities included boat cruises on Quinebaug River pond, a horse drawn trolley and stagecoach rides. The sunny warm weather was perfect until late afternoon and all were glad the rain held off.  A great Earth Day at Old Sturbridge Village!

Runoff Remedies Presentation

Please join us at 7 pm on May 10 to learn about Runoff Remedies for Lakes & Ponds.  This free program at the Groton Town Hall will show how to reduce stormwater run-off from your property.

Rain that runs off from homes, lawns, driveways and parking areas carries a lot of pollution. This dirty stormwater flows onto streets and then into streams, ponds and lakes.  Sand, silt and other pollutants spoil uses of local waters – stream life vanishes, lakes fill with weeds, and high bacteria counts can pose risks for people.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAEd Himlan of the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition will share a slideshow on how to keep lakes and ponds healthy. This program will feature low-cost, easy ways to prevent and fix polluted run-off:

  • See where the rain goes
  • Build rain gardens and bio-swales
  • Create rock-filled soakage trenches
  • Plant filter strips and groundcover buffers
  • Reduce erosion of dirt roads
  • Make simple basins to capture sediment
  • And more

Putting stormwater in the ground will help to lower costs for weed treatments and drainage systems.   The program will explain how to make a difference for your lake and pond.  This guidance can also help prevent run-off problems that harm streams and brooks.

The May 10 talk is sponsored by the Groton Lakes Association, Great Ponds Advisory Committee and Lost Lake Advisory Committee. The program is free and open to the general public.  For more information, please contact Alex Woodle (978) 448-6860.