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)


How to keep waters healthy

Every town can make streams and lakes cleaner, safer and more fun.  Cost-effective solutions can help prevent and fix the leading cause of pollution problems.  This 5 – 8 p.m. meeting in Worcester on November 18 will discuss ways to halt damages and heal local waters.

CSS blog 110815 (640x419) (3)Stormwater from roads, homes and businesses dumps tons of dirt, bacteria and other pollutants into brooks, ponds and reservoirs.  Most communities are concerned about the rising costs for stormwater control.  Fortunately, there are  efficient ways to improve local waters and reduce municipal expenses for water treatment.

This meeting will feature expert speakers on Low Impact Development, stream renewal and stormwater assistance programs.  Practical guidance will help to identify the best places to capture and cleanse runoff.  Meeting information will also discuss how to remove more pollution for less cost.

The $10 registration fee (free for students) includes meeting materials and refreshments.  You can view the meeting agenda and register online at Eventbrite.  For more details, email or telephone (978) 534-0379.

LID for Less Runoff

Towns can cut costs of polluted runoff and help keep local waters healthy.  Low Impact Development (LID) offers land planning and engineering techniques to reduce stormwater runoff and the expenses for water treatment.

CSS blog - LID CenterStormwater is the leading cause for damages to local streams, lakes and water supplies. LID design prevents harmful impacts of land uses by working with nature to store runoff and filter pollutants.

LID and other cost-effective techniques will be discussed at Community Stormwater Solutions. This November 18 meeting sponsored by the MA Watershed Coalition will be at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Expert speakers will provide practical guidance for town officials, stormwater committees, lake associations, builders and concerned citizens, which can help remedy runoff for less cost.

The $10 registration fee (free for students) includes materials and refreshments.  You can view meeting details and register online at Eventbrite.  For more information, email or telephone (978) 534-0379.

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.

Green Infrastructure Workshop and Vendor Fair

East%20Bioswale%20(NEI)smallA free workshop and vendor fair on clean water, green streets and green neighborhoods will be at Holyoke Community College on March 17.  This day-long event for builders, designers and municipal officials will include:

  • Presentations on design and construction considerations for green infrastructure BMPs
  • Three case studies about streetside bioretention, porous paving and gravel wetlands, which offer practical guidance for design, permitting, construction, cost and maintenance
  • Vendor fair featuring varied materials, resources and services used for stormwater green infrastructure projects
  • Lunch and networking opportunities (free box lunch provided)

The registration deadline is March 10, 2014.   Workshop sponsors are EPA Region 1; Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and Massachusetts Water Resources Research Center.  For more details and to register for the workshop, visit

Grow a Greener Community

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.

FortG3 L. George edhunately, 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.