EPA selects six communities to improve stormwater management and advance environmental justice
BOSTON (Oct. 19, 2023) – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has identified Milford, Somerville, Stoughton, Amherst, Chicopee, and South Hadley to work with the Agency on stormwater management through two collaborative problem-solving projects over the coming year. The municipalities were selected to receive in-kind technical assistance from EPA to advance environmental justice for disadvantaged communities within the Charles River Watershed, Mystic River Watershed, Neponset River Watershed, and the Pioneer Valley (Connecticut River Watershed).
"Communities, especially overburdened ones, should not worry that when a storm hits, flooding could fill their basement. They also should know that storm runoff won't dump nutrients in their lakes, ponds, and rivers and cause unhealthy algal blooms. Anyone who knows me knows I will take any opportunity to swim in our New England waterways. Every person should have that opportunity to safely play in the rivers and seas that surround us," said EPA Regional Administrator David W. Cash. "For environmentally overburdened and under-resourced communities, it is especially important to address stormwater runoff challenges to improve water quality."
Over the coming year, an EPA project team will work with staff from the selected communities in the Boston area, their watershed associations, the University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center, and Eastern Research Group. Another project team will focus on the Pioneer Valley and will work with staff from the selected communities, Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, the Horsely Whitten Group, and the University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center. For both projects, the teams will meet to discuss challenges and solutions for effective nutrient management through retrofits for targeted stormwater management in communities with environmental justice concerns.
The effort will be particularly focused on low-cost green infrastructure options that align local needs with the municipalities' maintenance capabilities and provide additional benefits to communities with environmental justice concerns. Specifically, the municipalities expressed interest in the following topics:
- Milford is interested in upgrading existing municipal stormwater controls to ensure stormwater is treated effectively and in learning about small-scale, cost-effective stormwater management solutions that are appropriate for municipal and private properties in densely populated areas closest to the Charles River.
- Somerville is interested in maximizing opportunities for stormwater practices focused on infiltration techniques that are effective in highly urbanized areas and gaining a better understanding of how to effectively maintain these practices. In addition, Somerville is interested in learning about asset management tracking of public and private stormwater control measures.
- Stoughton is interested in learning about maintenance schedule tracking tools for public and private stormwater controls and learning about streamlined approaches to maintain a successful stormwater control program.
- Amherst is interested in learning about developing more reliable funding mechanisms to increase the number of nature-based solutions and green infrastructure implementations to reduce flooding and improve water quality in the town.
- Chicopee is interested in balancing the importance of managing stormwater flooding and modernizing its stormwater treatment strategy to address more frequent and intense storms with a reliable funding stream through their existing stormwater utility.
- South Hadley is interested in learning about various cost-effective green infrastructure options that are easy to install to increase resilience and improve water quality in receiving waters. Specifically, the town is interested in tackling challenges related to nitrogen pollution from stormwater.
The expected outcome of the effort is a tailored stormwater management strategy for each municipality, as well as important progress toward improving the water quality impacts of stormwater runoff. The results of this collaborative effort will build capacity and useable tools that will be applicable to all municipalities and provide a strategic approach to prioritizing stormwater management in communities that have environmental justice concerns.
More information is available at: https://www.epa.gov/npdes/npdes-stormwater-program.