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.

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Livable Lakes Meeting

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North American Lake Management Society & MA Congress of Lake and Pond Associations are offering a two day seminar about lake management in today’s world. On May 20 – 21, learn about lake issues, network with others and move toward solving your lake’s problems.  Topics to be covered include:

  • Algae identification and control – Friday Workshop
  • Aquatic plant identification – Friday workshop
  • LID techniques for homeowners – Friday Workshop
  • Rooted plant control options
  • Establishing a tax district
  • Building an effective lake association
  • Cost of specific plant control options
  • Available funding for lake management
  • Cyanobacterial monitoring and health threats
  • Shoreline erosion assessment and control

The meeting in Marlboro MA will provide information of immediate use to participants. Expert speakers will go beyond simple case histories and available techniques, delving into proven track records, costs and funding, permitting, and organizational structures that work in lake management. This conference is about empowering people to make a difference for their lakes.

For tickets and more details, visit the Eventbrite listing

Old Sturbridge Village Earth Day Event and Exhibits

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Gristmill & Millpond

Celebrate Earth Day on Friday April 22 at Old Sturbridge Village. Bring your family and friends to enjoy interesting fun activities from 11am-3pm:

 

  • Rain Garden heritage seeds planting
  • Enviroscape interactive stormwater display
  • Sawmill and Gristmill demonstrations
  • Quinebaug River Boat Ride
  • Videos about the benefits of Low Impact Development
  • Fact sheets on how you can help keep water clean
  • And much more…

This Earth Day event is also the kick-off for the Sturbridge Stormwater Pollution Reduction Project that will help sustain healthy streams and lakes. Project partners include the Town of Sturbridge, Central MA Regional Planning Commission (CMRPC), Old Sturbridge Village and the MA Watershed Coalition.

The Sturbridge Pollution Reduction Project is funded by a grant from MassDEP and the EPA . The project will increase awareness of Low Impact Development (LID); prepare a LID bylaw; and plan stormwater improvements for the Old Sturbridge Village parking lot.

Low Impact Development prevents polluted runoff that harms streams, rivers and lakes. Examples of these LID techniques can include:

  • Better land use planning and design
  • “Green” development and redevelopment projects
  • Pollution prevention practices
  • Tree planting, rain gardens, green roofs, bioswales

More info about LID is available on the websites of MA Watershed Coalition and Central MA Regional Planning Commission.

Read this before fertilizing your lawn!

Many general purpose fertilizers contain the elements nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Phosphorus helps sustain plants by nourishing their roots and flowers. Though many fertilizers contain phosphorus, most lawns do not actually require the addition of it. It is often applied in excess because phosphorus moves very slowly down through the soil horizons. Surplus phosphorus washed off by storm runoff leads to algal blooms in aquatic systems like rivers, streams, lakes and ponds.

phosphorus fertilizer blogAccording to Section 65A of the Massachusetts General Laws, “No person shall purchase and apply or authorize any person, by way of service contact or other arrangement, to apply in the commonwealth any phosphorus containing fertilizer on lawn or non-agricultural turf.” There are exceptions however if:

  1. A soil test indicates it is needed. These can be purchased at local garden centers or soils can be sent off to local universities for testing. Soil tests should be completed every 3 or 4 years.
  2. Phosphorus can be used when establishing a new lawn

This law is designed to limit the amount of phosphorus entering the environment from non-point sources. According to the EPA, restricting phosphoric fertilizers can save up to $180 million in water treatment costs and reduce the amount of phosphorus entering streams and lakes by as much as 65 percent. This law was passed in August 2014 and is effective now, so there are alternative, phosphorus-free fertilizers for your lawn!

Some other tips to reduce risk of pollution from fertilizers include: use lime to maintain an adequate soil pH (see soil test for current pH); apply fertilizers when lawn in moderately moist; don’t apply fertilizers right before a heavy rainfall event; and aerating soils so they are less compacted and allow water to infiltrate.

 

The potential of permeable pavements

Runoff is a major problem in urbanized areas like major cities and suburbs, where stormwater can also damage local streams and lakes. A major contributor to this degradation is pavement. Your home’s driveway, your street, and your sidewalk are all leading to oil, nutrients, and other pollutants entering your watershed. But now, there are ways you can remedy this. Multiple low impact development options are available, including permeable pavers, paving grids, and permeable concrete.

pervious walkway profilePermeable paver walkways can reduce your household’s pollution without detracting from its curb appeal. These walkways look like traditional sidewalks, but with spaces between and underneath pavers to absorb the rain and snowmelt. They are composed of three layers: 12 inches of crushed stones or gravel on the bottom, 6 inches of pea stones in the middle, and the layer of pavers on the top. You may want to contact a contractor depending on the scale of your project and budget.

Other absorbent pavement technologies include pervious concrete. This porous concrete is composed of interconnected voids of large aggregates (no fines like sand), which allow water to readily pass through at a rate of 3 to 5 gallons per minute (exceeding the flow rates of most storms). watch-this-thirsty-concrete-drinks-4-000-litres-of-water-in-60-seconds-02When water makes contact with this surface, it percolates down through layers of gravel, helping to purify the water and infiltrate into the soil along the way. The strength of these pavements is on par with standard paving methodologies, and can usually withstand the freeze-thaw cycles that occur in the winter.

Maintenance for these systems is relatively low, thus making it an excellent choice to improve your home’s rainwater management. Some pavement systems may not quite be durable enough to use on major roads, but would also be excellent options for parking lots and sidewalks throughout urban areas. Permeable pavement options have the additional potential to reduce flooding while increasing groundwater recharge.

 

DIY Rain Barrels

rain barrel blogRain barrels are an easy way to cut down on your home’s water consumption by using rainwater to water your gardens and lawn. They can be purchased from your local Lowes, Home Depot, or online. If you are feeling a little more creative and frugal, they can be made easily at home.

To make your own, you will need a large barrel (a 55 gallon plastic drum), a faucet, a screen filter, an extender tube, some concrete blocks, and some power tools. Materials should cost about $50 or less. There are four basic steps:

  1. Create drainage holes
  2. Ensure a water tight seal
  3. Insert a filter and elevate the barrel
  4. Attach your downspout to the rain barrel

With a new rain barrel installed in your home, you will be able to reduce your water bill for lawn and garden care. It is important to note that you will need to monitor your water levels to ensure your barrel does not overflow. However, this inexpensive installation is still an affordable way to reduce stormwater runoff around your home. Even the smallest actions can make a difference to your local watershed.

A full tutorial can be found here: DIY Network

Are you responsible for the latest oil spill?

According to the National Academy of Sciences, oil equivalent of an Exxon Valdez oil spill is released into the environment from cars every eight months. This equals 10.9 million gallons of petroleum entering sensitive ecosystems and this number only includes discharges in the United States! So, that rainbow sheen you see running from underneath your car or in the parking lot of your local shopping center is responsible for polluting local streams and rivers.

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Oil entering the environment as runoff from streets, driveways and parking is extremely detrimental to local watersheds. It comes in the form of car exhaust, tire wear, metals, oil leaking from engines, and improper disposal of oils and lubricants. The amount of pollutants has grown due to the rising demand for cars, and the increased stormwater produced in urban and suburban places. This is bad news for vulnerable ecosystems, such as rivers, lakes and coastal habitats, where much water pollution often ends up. In addition to cars, oil pollution is common from boating activity. This petroleum hydrocarbon pollution from motor vehicles is expected to continue growing in the upcoming years with global urbanization.

Impervious surfaces are partly to blame. When stormwater is unable to infiltrate, it collects pollutants on the surface of streets and parking areas, which are carried into storm drain systems. Storm drains release this polluted runoff into local waters and wreak havoc on the plants and animals. Oil spills are well-known to have detrimental effects on birds, plants, and fish. It is also increasingly important to ensure cars and engines do not leak and stormwater runoff is reduced to avoid damages to fragile ecosystems.