Clean Stormwater Initiative

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WALTHAM'S CLEAN STORMWATER INITIATIVE

 

WHAT IS STORMWATER AND WHY IS IT A PROBLEM?

Stormwater runoff is one of the most significant sources of pollution according to the U.S Environmental Protection AgencyStormwater is rain that falls on roofs, lawns or paved areas, like driveways and roads, and is carried away by a system of stormwater pipes or culverts and ditches. As it flows over the land surface, stormwater picks up or is contaminated by debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants. This untreated water is then discharged into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing and drinking water. 

 

WHAT IS THE CLEAN STORMWATER INITIATIVE & WHY ARE WE DOING IT?

The 2016 Massachusetts Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4) General Permit was signed April 4th, 2016 and will become effective July 1st, 2017. This program introduces participants to municipal obligations under the Federal Clean Water Act as well as state DEP requirements. You can read more about the MA Small MS4 General Permit here.

Proper management of stormwater is of great importance in order to minimize the entry of pollutants to the storm system and ultimately protect the integrity of our water resources. The City of Waltham is launching the clean stormwater initiative to proactively manage stormwater pollution prevention.

 

WHAT IS OUR ULTIMATE GOAL? 

Our main goal is to start making residents more aware of the stormwater pollution problem & give them tips on measures they can take to help prevent stormwater pollution.

 

HOW DOES THIS AFFECT ME & WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

Polluted stormwater may have adverse effects such as algae blooms, which may kill fish and other aquatic fauna, habitat destruction due to extensive sedimentation, contaimination of drinking water sources, or beach closures due to elevated concentrations of bacteria. Here are some ways you can help prevent stormwater pollution:

  • Lawn and Garden Maintenance
    • Use Fertilizers & Pesticides sparingly
    • Select native plants & grasses that are drought tolerant and pest resistant
    • Compost or recycle Yard Waste
    • Cover piles of dirt and mulch to prevent them from washing into drains
    • Sweep up yard debris, rather than hosing down areas
    • Plant grass or vegetation where soil is exposed
  • Pet Waste Management
    • When walking your pet, pick up the waste and dispose of it properly
    • Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method
    • Do not dispose of pet waste near storm drains, culverts, ditches or waterbodies
  • Swimming pool & Spa care
    • Drain your pool only when the test kit does not detect chlorine levels
    • Whenever possible, drain your pool or spa into the sanitary sewer system
    • Properly store pool and spa chemicals to prevent leaks and spills, preferably in covered area
  • Hazardous Waste & Solvents
    • Use hazardous substances (paints, solvents, cleaners) in the smallest amounts possible
    • Store substances properly
    • Clean water based painting supplies over soil
    • Filter and reuse paint thinner
    • Dispose of excess oil-based paints during household hazardous waste collection day at the Minuteman Regional Hazardous Waste Center in Lexington 
    • Harden excess water-based paints & dispose of in regular household trash pick-ups. Paint hardeners can be purchased at many hardware stores
  • Cigarette Butts & other Trash
    • Put your fully extinguished cigarette butts and other liter in garbage bins or other proper receptables
    • If there is no garbage bin handy, hold onto your litter until you find one
    • Pitch in and help clean up littered areas
    • Sweep up & properly dispose of construction debris like concrete and mortar
  • Septic System Maintenance
    • Have your system inspected by a professional every three years
    • Pump your tank as necessary (every 3-5 years)
    • Care for the septic leach field by not driving or parking vehicles on it
    • Plant only grass over and near the leach field to avoid damage from roots
    • Don't dispose of household hazardous waste in sink or toilets
  • Vehicle Maintenance & Repair
    • Use a commercial car wash or wash your car on a lawn or other unpaved surface to minimize the amount of dirty, soapy water flowing into the storm drain, culvert or ditch
    • Check your car, boat, motorcycle, machinery & equipment for leaks and spills
    • Clean up spilled fluids with an absorbent material like kitty liter or sand and dispose of at the household hazardous waste collection facility.  
    • Recycle used oil and other automotive fluids at participating service stations. Don't dump these chemicals down the storm drain, in culverts or ditches, or dispose of them in your trash

 

UNDERSTANDING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SEWER & STORM DRAINS

  • Sewer Drains (Treated wastewater)

Sewer Drains are a system of underground pipes that carries sewage from bathrooms, sinks, kitchens, & other plumbing components to a wastewater treatment plant where it is filtered, treated and discharged 

  • Storm Drains (Un-Treated wastewater)

Storm Drains is a system designed to carry rainfall runoff and other drainage. It is not designed to carry sewage or accept hazardous wastes. The runoff is carried in underground pipes or open ditches and discharges untreated into local streams, rivers and other surface water bodies. Storm drain inlets are typically found in curbs and low-lying outdoor areas. Some older buildings have basement floor drains that connect to the storm sewer system. 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS

  • April 29th, 2017 - City of Waltham Annual citywide clean-up

 

RESOURCES

 

CONTACT THE STORMWATER TEAM

You can contact the Stormwater team here: bit.ly/contacttheteam 

To report blocked storm drains, call the City of Waltham Engineering Water & Sewer Department at 781-314-3820.

If you see someone illegally disposing of materials, call 911 to report it.

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BE THE SOLUTION TO STORMWATER POLLUTION!