What is stormwater?
Stormwater is the water that runs off the land surface when it rains or when snow melts. It enters the Town’s storm drain system and is transported to waterbodies (streams, rivers, wetlands and the ocean).
Why does stormwater matter?
Stormwater typically contains a number of pollutants, such as oil, grease, soapy water, sand and dirt from roads and parking lots, pesticides and fertilizers from lawns, sediment from construction sites, and trash such as cigarette butts, wrappers, and plastic bottles. When these pollutants enter water bodies, they can pollute the beaches, hinder recreation, and harm aquatic and other wildlife habitats. Improperly managed storm water runoff can result in flooding and erosion, too.
On “natural” land with vegetation, stormwater usually infiltrates into the ground or is lost to evaporation. Impervious surfaces like streets, parking lots, and rooftops prevent rain and snowmelt from soaking into the ground and therefore create extra runoff.
How can I help prevent stormwater pollution?
During rain, pollutants are flushed into the Town’s stormwater collection system. Little things can make a big difference. The following is a brief list of good household practices:
- Do not dump anything in a storm drain. Oil, soapy water, trash, cigarette butts, and anything else dumped down a catch basin will end up in a local waterbody, on the beach, or in the ocean.
- Use fertilizers sparingly (free compost from the Town is a great alternative to fertilizers) and avoid using them before a rain storm.
- Sweep up driveways and sidewalks. Sweeping is better than washing.
- Pick up pet waste
- Plant native and drought tolerant species, consider grass
- Care for you yard, vegetate bare spots
- Consider washing you car at a car wash
- Report illegal dumping: If you see someone dumping pollution into the storm drain or a local waterbody, please contact the DPW at (617) 846-1341.
Stormwater Regulatory Requirements
Stormwater discharges in the Town of Winthrop are regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Stormwater Permit Program.
EPA’s Phase II Stormwater Program, issued in 1999, required small municipal storm sewer systems (MS4s) in urbanized areas (defined by the most recent U.S. census), as well as small MS4s outside the urbanized areas that are designated by the permitting authority, to obtain NPDES permit coverage for their stormwater discharges. A map of Winthrop’s Regulated Area (Urbanized Area) is available here: http://www.epa.gov/ne/npdes/stormwater/assets/pdfs/ma/Winthrop.pdf
Objectives of the Phase II Stormwater Program are to reduce the discharge of stormwater pollutants to the maximum extent practicable, to protect water quality, and to satisfy the appropriate water quality requirements of the Clean Water Act. To meet these objectives, EPA requires communities to develop community-specific Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP), which identifies Best Management Practices (BMPs) to address the following six “minimum control measures”:
1. Public Education and Outreach
2. Public Participation and Involvement
3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
4. Construction Site Runoff Control
5. Post-Construction Runoff Control
6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
What is Winthrop doing?
Winthrop submitted their Notice of Intent (NOI) to EPA and MassDEP in 2003. The NOI identified BMPs that the Town included in their stormwater management program to comply with the terms of the General Permit. Annual Reports are submitted to EPA and MassDEP describing the Town’s stormwater activities each year. The NOI and Annual reports are available on EPA’s website:
EPA Region 1 NPDES Storm Water Permit Program