Economic Stimulus Gets Massachusetts Stormwater Projects Moving

BOSTON, Massachusetts, November 9, 2009 (ENS) – As part of the Massachusetts Recovery Plan to secure the state’s economic future, the Patrick administration has awarded $750,266 in grants to 11 communities for projects to conduct watershed nonpoint source pollution assessment and planning work to address water quality impairments. These grants are funded under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and Section 604b of the U.S. Clean Water Act.

“A strong water supply infrastructure keeps our communities safe. These funds will both create jobs and help communities assess and protect vital local resources,” said Governor Deval Patrick said.

Qualified proposals were selected on a competitive basis by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, MassDEP. Grant recipients include municipalities and regional planning commissions. The selected projects are located in Amesbury, Brewster, Cambridge, Duxbury, Marshfield, North Reading, Pembroke, Pittsfield, Provincetown, Sharon, and in the Connecticut River watershed.

“These projects are a key to our overall water resource protection efforts in threatened water bodies across the Commonwealth,” MassDEP Commissioner Laurie Burt said. “The infusion of federal stimulus funding into this program allows us to greatly expand the development of plans to help remediate water quality concerns in more watersheds.”

“This investment will create jobs and ensure Massachusetts maintains its excellent track record on water quality,” said U.S. Senator John Kerry.

“Our watersheds and salt marshes are not only critical to the environment, but to the local economy,” said Congressman Bill Delahunt. “In these tough economic times, I am pleased the federal government can help ease the financial burden on our cash-strapped local communities.”

The largest single grant is in the amount of $150,000. It goes to the City of Cambridge to measure the total amounts of phosphorus, metals, and polcyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are removed by two different types of street sweeping technologies. The street sweepers will cover a well-defined urban area representing a single land-use category during monthly street-sweeping periods for a maximum of 15 months.

Leaf litter on Quincy Street, Cambridge, Massachusetts (Photo by AntyDiluvian)

The project is a collaborative effort between the U.S. Geological Survey, the City of Cambridge, MassDEP, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The data acquired will be used by MassDEP and EPA to refine existing stormwater runoff models, estimate urban nonpoint source reductions of total phosphorus relative to the lower Charles River Total Maximum Daily Load, and develop appropriate load-reduction credits to facilitate additional high-efficiency vacuum sweeping in the Lower Charles River Basin and other areas statewide.

Information derived from this study is expected to enrich the knowledge base about effective Best Management Practices and will help prioritize municipal good housekeeping decisions for TMDL implementation and National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System Phase II compliance.

The next largest grant in the amount of $90,240 is awarded to the Town of Provincetown for stormwater mitigation in Provincetown Harbor.

This four-month project will continue improvements to the West End outfalls which continue to pollute the harbor with bacteria and impact the overall water quality.

This project will include a site survey, subsurface investigations, a preliminary design of Commercial Street between stormwater outfalls at the West End lot to Atlantic Avenue, consisting of stormwater collection improvements, infiltration facilities, and installation of porous pavement.

A slightly smaller grant $82,790 goes to the Town of Sharon. This project will survey sub-watersheds in Sharon, Stoughton, and Walpole to identify suitable sites for retrofitting with structural stormwater best management practices, BMPs, that address pathogens and other pollutants of concern.

Conceptual designs for best management practices will be developed at nine or more sites and less detailed cost estimates at an additional 21 sites. A methodology will be demonstrated for identifying and prioritizing BMP retrofit opportunities in these communities.

The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission will receive $77,206 to continue an on-going volunteer-based bacteria monitoring program in the Connecticut River watershed in Franklin, Hampshire and Hampden Counties.

This project includes monitoring of bacteria levels along the main stem of the river, collection of baseline bacteria data on tributaries suspected to be sources of bacteria, and new monitoring and field reconnaissance at specific locations for bacteria source tracking.

Data collected will be posted on an established website targeting recreational river users, and will be shared with the public through local media and forum outlets.

The City of Pittsfield will receive $69,300 to assess sources of sediment to Windsor and Cady brooks. Sediment deposits and the re-suspension of these materials during storm events and/or high flows may be contributing to increased turbidity in the Cleveland Reservoir – the City of Pittsfield’s principal water supply. Measures to prevent sediment from entering the reservoir will be identified.

Smaller grants will continue improvements to untreated stormwater discharges for the Paines Creek and Stony Brook Watershed in Brewster; advance stormwater mitigation work already underway in Kingston Bay; assess potential sources of bacteria in the South River so that local shellfish beds can be reopened.

The Town of Pembroke will receive funding to develop a long-term watershed restoration plan for both Oldham and Furnace ponds. The Town of Amesbury will be funded to obtain water quality data and conduct watershed assessment activities for tributaries of Lake Gardner. Finally, the Town of North Reading will be funded to identify the best stormwater remediation practices in the Upper Ipswich River Basin.

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