Frequently Asked Questions - Stormwater

If you own a car, maintain it so it does not leak oil or other fluids.  Be sure to wash it on the grass or at a car wash so the dirt and soap do not flow down the driveway into the nearest stormdrain.

Dispose of all trash in a can and pick up debris on the ground.  Do not litter!

Never apply fertilizers or pesticides before heavy rain.  If fertilizer falls onto driveways or sidewalks, sweep it up instead of hosing it away.

Keep lawn and household chemicals tightly sealed and stored where rain cannot reach them.  Dispose of old or unwanted chemicals at household hazardous waste collection sites or events.

Mulch leaves and grass clippings or place in bags at the curb.

Turn your gutter downspouts away from hard surfaces, seed bare spots in your yard to avoid erosion and consider building a rain garden in low lying areas of your lawn.

Pet owners should pick up after their pets and dispose of pet waste in the garbage.

"Best Management Practices" is a term used to describe the different ways to keep pollutants out of runoff and to slow down high volumes of runoff.  Keeping pollutants from entering runoff, practicing erosion control measures, use of detention ponds to collect runoff and permeable paving are examples of a few "best management practices"

Streams and creeks feed into rivers, lakes, and the ocean.  We all drink water, so we are all affected when our water is polluted.  The cost to treat polluted water rises and the price of drinking water increases.  If you like to swim, fish, or go boating, you may have been affected by advisories warning against the use of the water for recreational purposes.

Impervious surface area is any material that significantly reduces or prevents natural infiltration of water into the soil.  Impervious surfaces include, but are not limited to, roofs, patios, balconies, decks, streets, parking areas, driveways, sidewalks and any concrete, stone, brick, asphalt, or compacted gravel surfaces.

The Federal Clean Water Act requires towns to take steps necessary to reduce stormwater runoff.  Towns are required to do the following:

  1. Conduct outreach and education about stormwater runoff.
  2. Provide opportunities for residents to participate in conversations and activites related to reducing polluted stormwater runoff.
  3. Detect illicit discharges.
  4. Control construction site runoff.
  5. Control post-construction site runoff.
  6. Perform municipal housekeeping to take steps to prevent runoff from town buildings and activities.

Pervious surfaces (also known as porous or permeable surfaces) allow water to percolate into the soil to filter out polutants and recharge the water table.

As stormwater makes its way to the nearest body of water, it can pick up and carry pollutants, such as pesticides, fertilizers, oil, and soap, which can pollute water when present in sufficient quantities.

Polluted water creates numerous costs to the public and to wildlife.  It costs more to clean up polluted water than to protect water from being polluted.  Sediment damages wildlife habitats, chemicals damage plants and animals as they enter the water and fertilizers use up oxygen affecting the ability of wildlife to survive.

Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that "runs off" across land instead of seeping into the ground.  This runoff usually flows into the nearest stream, creek, river, lake or ocean.  The runoff is not treated in any way.