As stormwater flows over driveways, lawns, and sidewalks, it picks up debris, chemicals, dirt, and other pollutants. Stormwater can flow into a storm sewer system or directly to a lake, stream, river, wetland, or coastal water. Anything that enters a storm sewer system is discharged untreated into the waterbodies we use for swimming, fishing, and providing drinking water. Polluted runoff is the nation's greatest threat to clean water.
By practicing healthy household habits, homeowners can keep common pollutants like pesticides, pet waste, grass clippings, and automotive fluids off the ground and out of stormwater. Adopt these healthy household habits and help protect lakes, streams, rivers, wetlands, and coastal waters. Remember to share the habits with your neighbors!
Healthy Household Habits for Clean Water
Vehicle & Garage
- 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 and eventually into your local waterbody.
- Check your car, boat, motorcycle, and other machinery and equipment for leaks and spills. Make repairs as soon as possible. Clean up spilled fluids with an absorbent material like kitty litter or sand, and don't rinse the spills into a nearby storm drain. Remember to properly dispose of the absorbent material.
- Recycle used oil and other automotive fluids at participating service stations. Don't dump these chemicals down the storm drain or dispose of them in your trash.
Lawn & Garden
- Use pesticides and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts. Avoid application if the forecast calls for rain; otherwise, chemicals will be washed into your local stream.
- Select native plants and grasses that are drought- and pest-resistant. Native plants require less water, fertilizer, and pesticides.
- Sweep up yard debris, rather than hosing down areas. Compost or recycle yard waste when possible.
- Don't overwater your lawn. Water during the cool times of the day, and don't let water run off into the storm drain.
- Cover piles of dirt and mulch being used in landscaping projects to prevent these pollutants from blowing or washing off your yard and into local waterbodies. Vegetate bare spots in your yard to prevent soil erosion.
Home Repair & Improvement
- Sweep up and properly dispose of concrete and mortar.
- Use hazardous substances like paints, solvents, and cleaners in the smallest amounts possible, and follow the directions on the label. Clean up spills immediately, and dispose of the waste safely. Store substances properly to avoid leaks and spills.
- Purchase and use nontoxic, biodegradable, recycled, and recyclable products whenever possible.
- Clean paint brushes in a sink, not outdoors. Filter and reuse paint thinner when using oil-based paints. Properly dispose of excess paints through a household hazardous waste collection program, or donate unused paint to local organizations.
- Reduce the amount of paved area and increase the amount of vegetated area in your yard. Use native plants in your landscaping to reduce the need for watering during dry periods. Consider directing downspouts away from paved surfaces onto lawns and other measures to increase infiltration and reduce polluted runoff.
- When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving pet waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into the storm drain, and eventually into local waterbodies.
Swimming Pool & Spa
- Drain your swimming pool only when a 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 a covered area to avoid exposure to stormwater.
Septic System & Maintenance
- Have your septic system inspected by a professional at least every 3 years, and have the septic tank pumped as necessary (usually every 3 to 5 years).
- Care for the septic system drainfield by not driving or parking vehicles on it. Plant only grass over and near the drainfield to avoid damage from roots.
- Flush responsibly. Flushing household chemicals like paint, pesticides, oil, and antifreeze can destroy the biological treatment taking place in the system. Other items, such as diapers, paper towels, and cat litter, can clog the septic system and potentially damage components.
Storm Drains Connect to Waterbodies!
The Lunenburg Conservation Commission protects Lunenburg's Natural Resources. One of the many ways it accomplishes that goal is to evaluate all stormwater discharges within 100 feet of wetlands. Depending on what is proposed and the size, managing stormwater can require items ranging from very simple fixes to large scale engineering plans for large projects such as subdivisions. If you file a Notice of Intent application to develop property, the Commission will look for the following stormwater management components:
- Small projects such as home additions - the Commission will examine pre- and post- development gradings to ensure flows to wetlands are maintained and erosion protection is employed (usually in the form of haybales).
- Medium size projects and paving - The Commission will examine the proposal to ensure that the use of vegetated swales or catch basins with oil and water units are employed to protect water quality.
- Large developments such as subdivisions - The Commission will require all of the above listed items and also at a minimum, the following information from a registered professional engineer:
- Hydrologic and hydraulic evaluations to provide protection for on-site and adjacent off-site inhabitants and their property.
- Peak runoff discharges for 10, 50, and 100 year recurrence interval storm. Computations will be based on the USDA Soil Conservation Service Technical Release 55 (TR-55). A registered professional civil engineer or other professional competent in such matters shall prepare computations.
- Design computations with controls such that post developed peak runoffs do not exceed pre-development peak runoffs for the 10 and 100 year recurrence interval storms.
- Lost volumes within the 100 year recurrence interval storm area shall be compensated on a one to one basis within the same volumetric area.
- Design criteria for the 100 year event is found with 310 CMR Section 10.57 (2) (a) 3.a (wetland protection act regulations).
- Flooding occurring upon adjacent properties will require additional topography over the area affected. Building units, dwellings or structures of any type within proximity to the 100 year elevation line must be evaluated for potential storm related damage.
The Conservation Commission is a very important part of the performance of the proposed, mandated Stormwater Bylaw.