Stormwater Management Program Fact Sheet
Stormwater Pollution--What happens when it rains at UMass Boston
Once rain hits the ground, water that does not infiltrate into the soil flows into storm drains in paved areas where it then flows quickly via underground pipes to Boston Harbor. When this happens, all the pollutants that the water comes in contact with on pavement, sidewalks, grassed areas and roofs also goes into Boston Harbor.
When properties in urban settings are developed, like the university, more of the natural ground surface is changed to hard or paved surfaces, suchas roads, parking lots, and buildings.
This reduces the amount of stormwater infiltrating into the ground and causes more stormwater to flow into nearby surface waterbodies. Unless properly managed, this increased stormwater runoff can contribute to flooding, erosion, and water quality problems because of the contaminants the stormwater can pick up.
Why is stormwater runoff pollution a problem?
Most people do not realize that the university’s storm drainage system discharges directly to Savin Hill Cove and Dorchester Bay, both of which are part of the larger Boston Harbor watershed. Anything that gets washed off of roadways, parking lots, or lawns is carried directly to the Harbor. Unlike sanitary sewage, which is piped to the MWRA’s Deer Island treatment plant, stormwater flowing into storm drains is not treated for pollutants before it reaches the Harbor.
Boston Harbor, including Dorchester Bay has been identified by the State Department of Environmental Protection as an impaired water body and it is included on the Massachusetts “303(d) list of impaired water bodies”. The specific area of Dorchester Bay (ID# MA70-03_2008) is impaired based on the following pollutants: priority organics, pathogens, suspended solids, and turbidity.
What causes stormwater runoff pollution?
When stormwater flows across parking lots and other paved surfaces and enters the University’s storm drainage system, the water can pick up various pollutants, such as:
- Motor oil, gasoline, and chemicals in parking lots and streets.
- Fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides on lawns, parks, and residential areas.
- Paint, cleaners, and household hazardous waste that may be poured into storm drains.
- Mud and debris from construction sites, stream bank erosion, and other bare areas.
- Pet waste contains bacteria and parasites (pathogens) that can cause illness and make it unsafe to swim.
- Trash, litter, and solid waste dropped on ground or dumped into catch basins and storm drains.
- A good thing to remember is : Only Rain Down The Drain
When materials/pollutants enter the storm drainage system either by contact with stormwater or by illegal dumping,, they are considered “illicit discharges” and are prohibited.
Why is the university addressing stormwater runoff?
To protect water quality and to ensure compliance with state and federal regulations, the UMass Boston Environmental Health & Safety Office administers the Storm Water Management Program for the campus. More information about the Stormwater Management Program can be found on the Environmental Health & Safety website at www.umb.edu/administration_finance/contracts_compliance/ehs. The Stormwater Management Program follows guidelines prepared by the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as part of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Program. NPDES permits regulate and prohibit certain pollutants from entering storm water that is discharged to waters of the United States. More information on NPDES permits can be found at www.epa.gov/region1/npdes/stormwater.
What the university is doing?
University staff prepared a Stormwater Management Plan (SWMP) to address stormwater regulations and the operations and maintenance of the stormwater management system. The university will be required to re-apply for a permit under the new National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Phase II General Permit when it is finalized in 2010 or 2011.
UMass Boston has already implemented various best management practices (BMPs) to reduce the potential for stormwater pollution and to the quality of storm water runoff from the campus. For example, UMass Boston conducts annual parking lot sweeping, catch basin cleaning and training of facilities personnel. The University will be incorporating additional stormwater BMPs in the Master Planning program.
What can you do to help?
Everyone contributes to the problem. And everyone can help to reduce pollutants washed into drains by stormwater runoff. Here are some simple steps that you can take to reduce stormwater pollution:
- Never pour chemicals, including soap,motor oil, antifreeze, and cleaners on the ground, on paved areas, or into storm drains.
- Properly dispose of all solid waste, trash, and recyclable materials in designated and covered dumpsters and bins.
- Keep your car regularly tuned up to prevent fluids from leaking onto the ground.
- Do not litter or place trash or debris on the ground or in storm drains.
- Pick up and properly dispose of your pet’s waste.
You can also help UMass Boston maintain the storm drainage system by calling the Environmental Health and Safety Office at (617) 287-5445 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Use this number to provide feedback on the Stormwater Management Plan and report drainage problems or potential stormwater pollution issues, such as:
- Clogged storm drains or ditches, which may cause flooding problems.
- Excessive litter or trash found in or near the storm drainage system.
- Illegally dumped chemicals, batteries, or debris that could make its way into in the storm drainage system.
- Sanitary sewer pipes, RV holding tank emptying, car washing, or other illicit discharges to storm drains or ditches.
Heavy sediments from construction sites or bare land flowing into storm system.