The Clean Water Act authorizes The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to regulate point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States, including runoff from drainage systems. In 2003, the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination Systems (NPDES) Phase II Stormwater Program took effect and the EPA began regulating municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4) in additional urbanized areas. The Town of Essex is a designated small MS4 community.
Stormwater is runoff from a storm event that collects and carries natural and man-made pollutants into our wetlands and waterways.
What the town is required to do?
Under the Small MS4 Stormwater Program, operators of regulated small MS4’s are required to:
- Apply for NPDES permit coverage.
- Develop a stormwater management program which includes the six minimum control measures.
- Implement the stormwater management program using appropriate stormwater management controls, or best management practices (BMP’s)
- Develop measurable goals for the program.
- Evaluate the effectiveness of the program.
Listed below are the six minimum control measures that operators of regulated small MS4s must incorporate into stormwater management programs. These measures are expected to result in significant reductions of pollutants discharged into receiving water bodies.
- Public Education and Outreach
- Public Participation/Involvement
- Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
- Construction site runoff control
- Post-construction runoff control
- Pollution prevention/good housekeeping in municipal operations
What is the town doing?
The Town DPW is using its best management practices to administer this policy with limited resources. We encourage public input and assistance with stormwater compliance.
What can I do?
Excess fertilizers and pesticides applied to lawns and gardens wash off and pollute streams. In addition, yard clippings and leaves can wash into storm drains and contribute nutrients and organic matter to streams.
- Don’t over water your lawn. Consider using a soaker hose instead of a sprinkler.
- Use pesticide and fertilizers sparingly. When use is necessary, use these chemicals in the recommended amounts. Use organic mulch or safer pest control methods whenever possible.
- Compost or mulch yard waste. Don’t leave it in the street or sweep it into storm drains or streams.
- Cover piles of dirt or mulch being used in landscaping projects.
Leaking and poorly maintained septic systems release nutrients and pathogens that can be picked up by storm water and discharge them into nearby water bodies.
- Inspect your system every 3 years and pump your tank as necessary (every 3-5 years)
- Don’t dispose of hazardous wastes in sinks and toilets.
Washing your car at home can send detergents and other contaminants through the stormwater system. Dumping automotive fluids into storm drains has the same result as directly dumping the materials into a water body.
- Use commercial car washes that treat or recycle its wastewater, or wash your car on your yard so the water infiltrates the ground.
- Repair leaks and dispose of used auto fluids and batteries at designated drop off or recycling locations.
Pet waste can be a source of bacteria and excess nutrients in local waters
- When walking your pet, remember to pick up the waste and dispose of it properly. Flushing pet waste is the best disposal method. Leaving the waste on the ground increases public health risks by allowing harmful bacteria and nutrients to wash into storm drains.
- Greenscapes Massachusetts Coalition, as part of public education has provided the town with “Scoop it” information cards for proper pet waste disposal.
- Follow posted signage of allowable times for pets on public grounds and use common sense.
- Permeable Pavement - Traditional concrete and asphalt don’t allow water to soak into the ground. Permeable pavement systems allow rain and snowmelt to soak through decreasing stormwater runoff.
- Rain Barrels – You can collect rainwater from rooftops in mosquito proof containers. The water can later be used to water gardens and lawns
Erosion controls that aren’t maintained can cause excessive amounts of sediment and debris to be carried into stormwater system. Construction vehicles can leak fuel, oil and other harmful fluids that can be picked up by stormwater and deposited into local streams.
- Divert stormwater away from disturbed or exposed areas of the construction site.
- Install silt fences, vehicle mud removal areas vegetation cover, and other sediment and erosion controls and properly maintain them, especially after rainstorms.
- Prevent soil erosion by minimizing disturbed areas during construction projects and seed and mulch bare areas as soon as possible.
- Alert Essex Department of Public Works of any suspicious looking stormwater from a drain outlet.