Tackling Stormwater

To further implement the Campaign for a Fishable/Swimmable Blackstone River by 2015, the Blackstone River Coalition (BRC) is targeting polluted runoff and stormwater volume as the major issue impacting water quality.  The Tackling Stormwater Initiative is a four-pronged approach serving municipal decision makers, developers, businesses, and homeowners. This program is grounded in the data generated by the BRC’s well-respected, watershed-wide volunteer water quality monitoring program, which has an EPA/MA DEP/RIDEM approved Quality Assurance Project Plan, and supports 76 volunteers monitoring 74 sites throughout the watershed on a monthly basis. This well-crafted program will help communities meet their EPA Phase 1 or Phase 2 Stormwater Management Permit.

The details:

  • Local Decision Makers:  Using the historic October 15, 2005 flood as the “teachable moment”, the BRC sponsored a highly successful Blackstone Watershed Stormwater Management conference in January 2006, which highlighted Open Space Residential Design (OSRD) and Low Impact Development (LID) to reduce stormwater impacts.  Following up on the conference, we offer “Stormwater 101” presentations to interested communities to help them revise their bylaws and regulations to allow and encourage OSRD and LID, or develop a stormwater management bylaw.  OSRD and LID both drastically reduce the amount of stormwater that is generated, thus reducing the amount that has to be treated and managed.  We also plan to provide technical assistance with developing bylaw and regulation revisions to targeted communities.  The recent floods have boosted stormwater management into a much higher municipal priority.
  • Developers:  Not only do we need to have the appropriate regulatory structure in place, but developers, engineers, landscape architects, and other professionals also must be trained in creative solutions to stormwater management by incorporating Low Impact Development best management practices.  We are working with EOEA and the Mass Watershed Coalition to sponsor a major conference in early 2007 that will illustrate how developers can save money both in construction and in permitting costs.  We will then present follow-up workshops to bring home the connection between land use and water quality.
  • Business Owners:  The In Business for the Blackstone initiative is a voluntary leadership program that educates small and mid-size companies in the watershed on the detriments of polluted stormwater runoff and encourages the adoption of good housekeeping practices that can reduce the risk of pollutants in their runoff.  These practices are easy to adopt, have little or no related implementation cost, and can benefit the company’s bottom line. Once a company achieves certain standards for a certain period of time, it will earn the distinction of being In Business for the Blackstone and will be recognized as such with window decals, publicity, and advertising opportunities.  Collaborating with us on this program are the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce.  This voluntary program is vital to the Blackstone watershed communities to help them meet their EPA Phase 2 Stormwater Management permits.
  • Homeowners:  The BRC provides watershed-based outreach materials for homeowners to help them understand their role in improving water quality in the watersheds.  This information will be distributed at the many events that occur such as the Blackstone Valley Home and Business Expo, Heritage Homecoming, the Clean Water Festival, CanalFest, etc., as well as through the BRC website.

The chart below shows how the Blackstone River Coalition’s Tackling Stormwater Initiative can help municipalities fulfill the requirements of EPA’s Phase II Stormwater Management Permit and help protect your community’s natural resources.

EPA’s Phase II Stormwater Management Requirements and How the Blackstone River Coalition Can Help You Meet Them

Minimum Control Measures* Blackstone River Coalition In Business for the Blackstone

#1. Public Education and Outreach
Watershed-wide volunteer water quality monitoring program and Report Card, educators/speakers, storm drain stenciling, community clean-ups, stream teams, and citizen watch groups.

Educates small and mid-size companies in the watershed on the detriments of polluted stormwater runoff.

#2. Public Participation and Involvement
Watershed-wide volunteer water quality monitoring, educators/speakers, storm drain stenciling, community clean-ups, and citizen watch groups.

Encourages the adoption of good housekeeping practices that can reduce the risk of pollutants in their runoff. These practices are easy to adopt, have little or no related implementation cost, and can benefit the company’s bottom line.

#3. Detect and Eliminate Illicit Discharges
Water Quality Monitoring Report Card and partner watershed associations’ stream teams can support the municipality’s objective to develop and implement a plan to detect and eliminate illicit discharges to the storm water system

#4. Construction Site Runoff Control
Technical Assistance to develop a Stormwater Management bylaw or ordinance

#5. Post-Construction Runoff Control
Technical Assistance to develop a Stormwater Management bylaw or ordinance

#6. Pollution Prevention and Good Housekeeping
Enrolling municipal buildings provides measures that involves “implementing a program with the goal of preventing or reducing pollutant runoff from municipal operations” and fulfill the BMP of training staff on how to incorporate pollution prevention/good housekeeping techniques.

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