- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Media Contact for Commonwealth Launches Campaign to Reduce Stormwater Pollution
Edmund Coletta, MassDEP – Director of Public Affairs
BOSTON — The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), in partnership with the Statewide Stormwater Coalition, today announced the launch of a new stormwater awareness campaign to help Massachusetts cities and towns comply with new federal stormwater management requirements. The announcement was made during an event at the Joseph H. Gibbons Elementary School in Stoughton, which features a newly constructed rain garden that collects water during a storm and helps to naturally filter out contaminants as the water sinks into the ground. As part of the announcement, Gibbons School fifth-graders participated in a series of activities to show how the rain garden filters out pollutants and protects nearby natural resources.
“Stormwater runoff threatens the health of all water resources across Massachusetts,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “This unique public education campaign provides important information to residents, businesses and developers about what they can do to reduce these contaminants in our environment and keep our rivers and streams safe from pollution.”
The public awareness campaign, “Think Blue Massachusetts,” is designed to generate awareness among businesses and residents of the effects of stormwater pollution on waterways and wetlands and encourage people to do their part to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff. The campaign was developed by the Statewide Stormwater Coalition with a grant from MassDEP and will help 260 communities in Massachusetts meet new federal requirements for stormwater management. The new permit, called the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit, requires cities and towns to implement a host of stormwater pollution prevention efforts, including public educational activities and outreach to targeted audiences.
“The new campaign is a toolkit to help cities and towns meet the public education and outreach requirements of MS4,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “The material is available online and can be easily downloaded and customized to reflect a community’s individual needs. It provides one-stop shopping for our local officials who are working hard to meet these requirements.”
Stormwater runoff occurs when rain or snow-melt travels along roadways and parking lots and picks up contaminants on its way to local rivers, streams and groundwater sources. Contaminants – such as fertilizer, trash, oils, gasoline, solvents, pollen and pet waste – is washed into catch basins and into our stormwater systems and eventually discharged into the environment. The new requirements in the MS4 permits will reduce the overall amount of stormwater runoff entering our waterbodies.
“A holistic approach to water protection and conservation is paramount to keeping our water supplies clean. By following a few steps and educating our neighbors we can all work together to reduce stormwater contamination. The Statewide Stormwater Coalition and the MassDEP are great resources for cities and towns as we all work together on this important issue,” said State Senator Anne Gobi (D-Spencer), Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on the Environment Natural Resources and Agriculture.
“When rain or melting snow sweeps trash or chemicals off roads and parking lots, that's stormwater pollution,” said Robin Craver, Administrator for the Town of Charlton and Chair of the Massachusetts Statewide Municipal Stormwater Coalition. “It’s the fastest growing type of water pollution in Massachusetts, and we are coming together to help residents and businesses do their part to control it.”
"The important work being conducted by the Baker-Polito Administration, in conjunction with [MassDEP], in their collaboration with the faculty and students of the fifth grade of the Joseph H. Gibbons Elementary School, is providing a sustainable model to combat water run-off pollution in Massachusetts, for future generations," said State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Norfolk/Bristol & Plymouth). "Moreover, this program educates students, as to how they can have a meaningful impact on their surrounding environment. I, along with [state} Representatives Galvin and Kafka, applaud the efforts of the 'Massachusetts Think Blue Campaign' in educating the youth of the Commonwealth, regarding the importance of storm water awareness."
“Our local cities and towns are on the front lines of the effort to cleanup polluted stormwater runoff, which is critical to protecting our drinking water, swimming, boating, fishing and local wildlife,” said Ian Cooke, Executive Director of the Neponset River Watershed Association. “Everyone needs our cities and towns to succeed in this important work and it's good to see cities and towns working together regionally with the help of the Commonwealth and local nonprofit conservation groups to make that happen as efficiently and effectively as possible.”
“The Gibbons School is a perfect location for this stormwater event,” said Lynne Jardin, Administrative Principal for J.H. Gibbons Elementary School. “The newly constructed rain garden and bio-retention basins have served as an outdoor classroom for our students, providing us with a real-world model of an infiltration system. Students were fortunate to watch the project evolve from groundbreaking to completion. An added bonus to our community is that students are now expressing interest in becoming engineers to help solve world problems.”
Material available on the Think Blue Massachusetts web site includes customizable flyers and posters for community events, but also goes beyond typical publication material to include videos that can be put on a community’s social media and public access channel for viewing. The web site also includes a webinar for local officials on how to document the use of the material in their annual reporting requirements. The Think Blue campaign, its work and the related MS4 outreach is funded by MassDEP’s MS4 Municipal Assistance Grant Program.
The Statewide Stormwater Coalition is comprised of members from the 10 regional coalitions across the Commonwealth. In total, 136 cities and towns are part of the Statewide Stormwater Coalition and contributed to the Think Blue Massachusetts campaign.