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Stormwater Solutions for Homeowners

Find fact sheets on techniques to control runoff and reduce stormwater contamination.

The Stormwater Solutions for Homeowners fact sheets—developed by the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) as part of the Coastal Water Quality Programgive property owners a variety of options to effectively reduce runoff pollution and other stormwater impacts to help protect local waters.

Fact Sheet Index

Fact sheets are currently available on these techniques:

  • Vegetated Buffers - Trees, shrubs, high grasses, perennials, and other vegetation can be strategically planted to help slow, capture, and filter runoff and reduce stormwater impacts.
  • “Green” Lawn and Garden Practices - Environmentally friendly yard care methods—such as planting native species, conserving water, and reducing fertilizer and chemical use—help to protect water quality and can save time and money.
  • Rain Gardens - Rain gardens are specially designed and planted depressions in the ground that collect, filter, and treat stormwater.
  • Reducing Impervious Surfaces - Impervious surfaces (such as asphalt driveways and concrete patios) allow greater volumes of stormwater to flow quickly offsite, carrying contaminants and causing local flooding and erosion. Replacing impervious surfaces with gravel driveways, planted areas, and other options that infiltrate or absorb water can significantly reduce stormwater problems.
  • Minimizing Contaminants - Household contaminants—such as oil from automobiles, toxins from pesticides and cleaning products, and bacteria from pet waste and septic systems—can contribute to stormwater pollution. But simple changes at home, from reducing fertilizer use to properly disposing of batteries and other hazardous household products, can help keep inland and coastal waters clean.

Additional options will be added to this website over time, including:

  • Preventing Erosion - Stormwater can carry sediments that fill storm drains, obstruct channels, smother wetlands, and cause other water quality and habitat impacts. Erosion and sediment controls can help slow and redirect stormwater, reducing erosion and capturing sediments and attached pollutants on site.
  • Vegetated Swales - Vegetated swales are channels with moisture-loving plants and amended soils that intercept, treat, and slowly convey stormwater runoff to where it can be effectively infiltrated. 

Specifics on Stormwater

Stormwater is rainwater and snowmelt that runs over the ground, picking up pollutants along the way—such as oil from roadways, silt and sand from exposed soil, nutrients from fertilizers, bacteria from pet waste, and pesticides from lawns. These pollutants are not treated or removed when the stormwater flows through a storm drain or directly to the nearest body of water, resulting in stormwater pollution that can contaminate shellfish beds and swimming areas, cause algae blooms and fish kills, and otherwise impact people, wildlife, and ecosystems. This runoff can also cause flooding and erosion on your property and beyond.

Fact Sheet Details

The Stormwater Solutions for Homeowners fact sheets provide property owners with a range of best practices for reducing and treating stormwater on site. Each fact sheet includes information on the technique’s benefits; recommended guidelines for locating, designing, implementing, and maintaining specific practices; and a brief overview of regulatory and permitting requirements. Step-by-step instructional guidelines, photos, and figures can help homeowners select the most appropriate projects and practices for their property to help protect local water quality, reduce flooding, and improve wildlife habitats.

Contributors

CZM would like to thank the members of the Stormwater Solutions Technical Advisory Committee (TAC)—stormwater specialists, engineers, natural resources specialists, and other environmental consultants with extensive stormwater management experience—who provided their expertise in the review of these materials. These TAC members are:

  • Jane Peirce, Thomas McGuire, and Laura Schifman - Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
  • MaryJo Feuerbach and Ray Cody - U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1
  • Heather McElroy, Scott Michaud, Michele White, and Tim Pasakarnis - Cape Cod Commission
  • Dr. Thomas P. Ballestero, P.E. - University of New Hampshire
  • Michael Clark - Polaris Consultants LLC

Additional Resources

  • CZ-Tip - Simple Steps to Clean Boating in Massachusetts - This CZ-Tip shares information on fuel and oil handling, sewage and graywater management, boat cleaning and maintenance, boating in sensitive areas, marine debris, and invasive species.
  • Massachusetts Clean Marina Guide - This CZM document provides best practices for operators of marinas and boatyards and includes Boater Fact Sheets (PDF, 99 KB) with detailed information on: boat operation and fueling; hazardous waste and trash disposal; bilge water, graywater, and boat sewage; boat cleaning and hull/engine maintenance; and non-toxic cleaning alternatives.
  •  No Discharge Zones (NDZs) Website - NDZs are designated bodies of water where the discharge of all boat sewage, whether treated or not, is prohibited. All of Massachusetts waters are designated as “no discharge” for vessel sewage. CZM supports efforts to increase boat pumpout facilities to make proper sewage disposal more convenient for boaters.
  • Coastal Habitat Program - The Massachusetts coastal zone includes dozens of habitats that serve important functions for the environment, wildlife, and people. CZM strives to better understand the complex interactions that sustain coastal habitats and works to protect and restore these valuable resources.
  • Coastal Habitat and Water Quality (CHWQ) Grants - These grants fund projects that assess and treat stormwater impacts and support comprehensive habitat restoration planning activities. 
  • Coastal Pollutant Remediation (CPR) Grant Program - These grants provide funding to municipalities in Massachusetts coastal watersheds to reduce runoff pollution from roads, highways, or parking areas and to install municipal boat pumpout facilities for commercial vessels.
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