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:


Improving the Lower Mill Pond Watershed

Green Infrastructure and Low Impact Design can improve water quality, beautify the urban landscape, and provide habitat for wildlife. But what locations are a priority for installation of these best management practices (BMPs)? And what types of BMPs are appropriate for a specific site?

Ben Fairbank, Janice Schmidt, and Alex Krofta answer these questions in their Conway School project entitled A Neighborhood Strategy for Improving the Lower Mill Pond Watershed.   This report was prepared for Easthampton Massachusetts.  The project team worked with Jim Gracia, Easthampton DPW; Jessica Allan, City Planner; and Matt Reardon of MassDEP.

Lower Mill Pond rpt cover capture - revs.The focus of the report is Lower Mill Pond in Easthampton, a long-abused and often-overlooked relic of the industrial age. Though point-source pollution from the nearby factories is a thing of the past, the current threat to water quality is an aging storm sewer system that discharges directly to the pond and its tributary streams.

To prioritize areas for treatment, we divided the subwatershed into storm sewer catchment areas and then employed a GIS tool provided by the MassDEP to calculate the amount of Directly Connected Impervious Area in each. Next we identified Environmental Justice areas within the subwatershed, and areas lacking open space or parks, as priorities for green infrastructure BMPs.

To determine where certain BMPs may be appropriate, we used NRCS soils data to estimate infiltration capacity based on soil type and depth to groundwater. Then we searched the assessor’s database for vacant land, city-owned land, or federally-owned land since planners may have better access to these sites than to private properties in this densely-built residential neighborhood.

Based on this analysis, we developed a framework for stormwater planning in the subwatershed, and a site-scale design process. We imagined green infrastructure BMPs for site types and soil conditions typical to the Lower Mill Pond neighborhood, and also suggested programmatic and gray infrastructure solutions where appropriate.

Have a look at the report and let us know what you think (email ). Thanks!

(Above article by Alex Krofta, Conway School)

“Just The FAQs” – Infrastructure Funding

stormwater outfallNew video by MWRA Advisory Board highlights funding available to help finance water, stormwater and sewer projects.  Funding sources include federal, state and quasi-state grants and loans available to Massachusetts cities and towns.  To view, visit:

This video also links to “The Green Sheet”, a separate video by the MWRA Advisory Board, which offers examples of local economic development benefits from infrastructure investments.

Great Ways to Grow Greener

Bioswales, rain gardens, tree filters and permeable paving will enhance neighborhoods and downtown areas.  These practices can also renew the health of brooks and ponds, as well as reduce community costs for polluted runoff.

EPA GI OppsA January 2015 EPA report on “Green Infrastructure Opportunities …” offers exciting examples and case studies of low impact designs with multiple community benefits.  Green infrastructure applies natural processes to cleanup stormwater and improve the vitality of cities and towns.

This report has many photos and illustrations showing how local officials, civic groups and businesses can utilize green infrastructure in small and mid-sized communities.

Additionally, the report clearly explains the costs and benefits of diverse techniques, as well as advantages and disadvantages of green infrastructure funding sources.  This guide also describes ways that projects can be easily modified to reduce costs, recognizing the community resources are limited.

The helpful guide is available at

Community Stormwater Solutions in Action Lessons from Monoosnoc Brook

Oct 17 CSSIA workshop

Stormwater is a leading cause of damage to streams, lakes, and water supplies. Fortunately,there are effective ways to prevent and fix polluted runoff. Leominster took a community approach to stormwater problems to remove 500 tons of debris and sediment from Monoosnoc Brook.

Municipal boards, builders, engineers, and watershed and lake associations will gain practical information to make positive impacts in their own communities at a free workshop on October 17, 2014 at Leominster Library. Expert speakers will present guidance in selecting practices to achieve more pollutant reduction for less cost. The free 2-hour workshop will be followed by an optional tour of nearby bio-swales, tree box filters, porous walkways and other BMP’s.

Pre-registration is requested – email , or telephone 978-534-0379.

The Monoosnoc Brook project has been partly supported with Federal funds from the Environmental Protection Agency to the MA Department of Environmental Protection under an s.319 competitive grant.

Tree systems filter road runoff

???????????????????????????????Tree filter systems in Leominster are now cleansing stormwater from City streets.  Each system has a concrete frame that is open on three sides and the bottom.  The open bottom design does not restrict root growth and the porous filter media prevents “drowning” of the tree roots.  A clean-out sump captures sediment and debris as stormwater enters the system to reduce buildup on the filter media surface.

Under the three feet of filter media is two feet of stone that allows the filtered stormwater to soak into adjacent soils. During very heavy rains, a horizontal perforated pipe conveys this filtered water to the storm sewer in order to prevent filter system overflows.

The top of the structure is open to allow tree growth and cleanout of the collection sump and surface of the filter media.   The removable grate on top of the filter system has a small opening for the tree trunk.  This fiberglass grating can be cut with a hand saw to enlarge the opening as the tree grows.

Routine maintenance includes cleanout of the sump and surface media bed as well as tree inspection, which will help keep the system filtering road runoff for many years.

Standard tree filter systems can treat up to 1/2 acre or more of paved road, and can be configured to work at most sites.  Tree filters can be combined with conventional stormwater structures and infiltration chambers, or simply as a “stand-alone” system.  For more details, visit

“Stormwater Solutions in Action” is available

Over the past year, the MA Watershed Coalition compiled information on stormwater reduction throughout the state. The initial inventory of Stormwater Solutions in Action is posted on MWC’s website – please use the following link to view or download this report and map

Stormwater Solutions in Action (SSIA) lists stormwater practices used by cities and towns across Massachusetts.  MWC encourages everyone – homeowners, businesses, community groups, schools and municipalities – to consider similar runoff remedies.

This report identifies over 200 projects that cleanse nearly 900 million gallons of polluted runoff each year. The projects listed are a small fraction of what is being done state-wide, with many towns not yet represented.   MWC will update the inventory later this year with more examples of local stormwater solutions. We ask readers to help share and expand the inventory report.

The SSIA inventory includes a project table that is organized alphabetically by major watershed and the towns within them.  Most of Massachusetts’ major watersheds are represented – some watersheds have many projects listed and some have just a few.  This project table is followed by a section with brief remarks about Best Management Practices (BMPs), as well as links to stormwater guides, a list of watershed organizations and more.

street runoff to CBAbout Stormwater: Stormwater runoff from roads, parking lots, homes and businesses is the biggest threat to clean water. One acre of paving generates a million gallons of runoff per year that washes dirt, fertilizers, oil, bacteria and other contaminants into street drains that dump into brooks and ponds.

There are many BMPs for polluted runoff that help improve hydrologic conditions by recharging groundwater and by reducing frequent flooding that  damages local streams and lakes. Depending on a project’s size, several BMPs may be used in forming a “treatment train” to maximize effectiveness.

For more information about stormwater problems and solutions, please visit the MWC website