Residential Stormwater Management

It's easy to identify areas of stormwater runoff concern on your property.

Look down.

Are you standing on a hard surface? Any area that is an impervious surface is contributing to stormwater runoff in some capacity. As a homeowner, you can help avoid the problems associated with stormwater runoff by:

  • Reducing impervious areas so that the rain soaks into the ground
  • Planting native trees and plants which help infiltrate stormwater and increase evaporation and transpiration
  • Following good lawn care practices
  • Managing stormwater on-site with rain gardens, rain barrels and similar practices

Small Efforts Make a Big Difference!

Pet Waste

Pet waste carries high levels of harmful E coli bacteria and other pathogens that can wash into storm drains and waterways, increasing public health risks and causing infections. When you walk your dog, make sure to carry a plastic bag with you so that you can pick up the waste and dispose of it in a trash can.

Read more about pet waste

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Household Chemicals

The following products can be hazardous to waterways and should be disposed of at your local Department of Public Works (DPW), during hazardous waste day or by following manufacturer's guidelines:

  • Insecticides and pesticides
  • Paints and solvents
  • Used motor oil and other auto fluids

Never pour chemicals into storm drains and avoid spilling onto paved surfaces. Clean up leaks and spills using an absorbent such as kitty litter or sand, and sweep up immediately.

Read more about household chemicals

Lawn Care

  • Avoid spreading fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides on paved areas and sweep up any spills.
  • Never use more than the directions call for, and choose phosphate-free fertilizers whenever possible.
  • Don't pile grass clippings, leaves, or other yard waste in streams or wetlands, and keep yard waste from being washed into storm drains.
  • Consider starting a compost pile in your yard.
  • Use organic fertilizer whenever possible. Organic or slow-release nitrogen fertilizer causes less harm to water. Be sure to use fertilizer with no or low phosphorus-phosphorus causes algae growth in water.
  • If you are having problems with your grass, don't keep adding chemicals. Have your soil tested at the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Extension.

Redirect Rainwater

  • Build a rain garden or grassy swale, which is a simple, specially designed area planted with native plants that captures runoff from parking areas, driveways, walkways and roofs and filters it through the soil, rather than allow it to flow directly into storm drains, ponds or lakes.
  • Install a vegetated filter strip of native grass or plants along roadways or near streams. They trap the pollutants stormwater picks up as it flows across driveways and streets.
  • Place a rain barrel under your downspout to easily capture rain for use around your property.
  • Redirect downspouts so that water flows into grass or shrubs instead of onto a driveway or sidewalk.
  • Install a dry well in your yard to capture excess runoff.

Read more about reusing rainwater

Vehicle Care

When washing your car or boat, park it in a spot where the soap will run off into grass, rather than going into the street and down the storm drain.

Read more about vehicle care