“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 http://commonwaters.org/resources/bgy-resources

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 www.commonwaters.org.

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Rain Gardens

Rain gardens reduce pollution caused by stormwater. Planted with shrubs and perennials, upkeep is simple and inexpensive. By creating a rain garden you put stormwater into the ground and keep dirty runoff from harming streams, ponds and water supplies.

Picture from EPA Green Infrastructure Website

Rain Garden picture from EPA Green Infrastructure Website

Read more to learn how to plan and build a rain garden for your yard.

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NH DIY Stormwater Guide

It is important to have an understanding of the quest that you are about to venture on. Many times a guidebook will prove beneficial.

One of the stormwater publications that has proven to be of great use in terms of stormwater solutions for your home is a homeowner’s guide  created by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES). I have linked it for your viewing ease here -> http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/publications/wd/documents/wd-11-11.pdf

Over the course of the blog we will go more in-depth on solutions in this NH Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater Solutions.

Walkway and Driveway Maintenance

While it is the middle of winter and you may not be thinking about brooks and ponds as you are snug in your house, stormwater problems do not hibernate.

One of the easiest thing that you can do in regards to stormwater in the winter, is make changes in regards to walkway and driveway maintenance. This can be done by limiting the area that needs deicers and sand for traction. Less area equals less need for harmful deicers.

You can also help reduce damages from deicer by making more “environmentally sound” choices than salt. Salt which has been used as deicers for years, has cyanide and chloride, corrosive chemicals that kill plants and hurt an animals feet. Alternatives to salt, and new salt reduction techniqueshave been showing up over the years to decrease our dependency on salt.

An example of a salt alternative is formic acid which has been used on airplane runways for years. It has a low toxicity level and is biodegradable. Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) and Calcium chloride are two advertized pet-safe deicers. CMA is far less toxic than salt and about as effective. Calcium Chloride is more potent and can be used in smaller amounts, able to work down to negative 25 degrees Fahrenheit, it has no cyanide but does have chlorine impact. More are being studied, but the impact of large scale usage of alternative deicers itself has not been studied to the extent of salt.

A new salt reduction technique, using a mixture of beet juice and salt, has been studied in Chicago. The mixture works better than pure salt and can reduce the amount of salt needed by 30 %.(http://www.thedailygreen.com/green-homes/eco-friendly/beet-juice-deicer-460313) Many municipals are trying to come up with ways like this, using things like cheese brine in Wisconsin (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/24/us/wisconsin-finds-another-role-for-cheese-de-icing-roads.html), and molasses-like solutions. Through more research we can discover and study more mixtures that help the salt’s ability melting (or even the alternative deicers’ melting) to find not only an effective solution, but a cost effective one as well.

Together, we can help prevent plant damage, protect our pets, and keep our water clean.

Runoff Remedies Introduction

Stormwater runoff from homes, businesses, parking lots and streets is the main cause of water pollution in urban and suburban places.

This Runoff-Remedies blog offers guidance to solve problems that harm stream life, damage property  and spoil the uses of local waters.Most communities are unaware that streets dump dirty, oily runoff directly into  waterways. These pollutants accumulate and cause the steady decline of streams, lakes and water supplies.

RunoffRemedies intro blog 120413

rain garden cleanses parking runoff

Runoff-Remedies will explain “how-to” restore healthy waters.   Readers can gain practical advice about Best Management Practices and other ways to prevent and fix polluted runoff.

How to rescue wild trout

Wild trout are living icons wild troutof healthy streams.  Where native Brook Trout thrive, there is safe wholesome water for stream life and people.

Sadly, wild trout that have prospered for 20,000 generations are vanishing from urban and suburban waters.  Not a good sign for fragile ecosystems and a poor reflection on community stewardship of shared waters.

Local growth and development is a chief cause for the plight of wild trout.  Greater storm runoff from buildings, parking and streets dumps into brooks where wild trout live.  Tons of sand and silt clog aquatic habitats and fill up trout nesting areas.  Warm runoff from asphalt raises water temperatures beyond tolerance and robs the oxygen that trout need to survive.  Added to this is less groundwater recharge, which is essential for sustaining stream flows during dry seasons.

Yet, streams damaged by stormwater can be rapidly restored if towns remedy runoff from streets.  And the wild trout will return to delight people of all ages.

Local conservation commissions can play a key part in saving and renewing  native brook trout streams.   Practical guidance  is supplied by “Ten Ways Conservation Commissions Can Help Protect Coldwater Streams and Their Inhabitants“, which is available for free download at http://www.commonwaters.org/images/stories/bgy/10ways_protect_coldwater_streams.pdf .

To learn more about trout, visit http://www.mass.gov/eea/agencies/dfg/dfw/fish-wildlife-plants/fish/trout-information.html .  This MA Fisheries & Wildlife webpage includes a capsule of ongoing efforts to restore native “Brookies” across the state.