Serious water quality and flooding problems can occur when stormwater, carrying various pollutants, runs off large areas of impervious surfaces that do not allow rain to infiltrate into the ground, be filtered, and recharge ground water. There are comprehensive approaches to dealing with stormwater runoff problems–and preventing them in the first place–one type deals with rain water directly; such as rain gardens, another that reduces flow is called Low Impact Development, or LID.
Rain Gardens are colorful landscaped basins where water can run to in a storm. You can Make Your Own Rain Garden (downloadable pdf files) to capture flow.
* Mass Watershed Coalition Rain Garden Guide (5 pages)
* UConn Cooperative Extension Service Rain Garden Brochure (12 pages)
LID — Even in a relatively rural region like the Millers River watershed, ongoing development has led to loss of open space and increased impervious surface. Some of the larger Millers Watershed towns are now dealing with stormwater management issues, and the smaller towns have an opportunity to address the issue proactively to avoid problems in the future. A premier local example of using LID techniques to manage stormwater runoff is the Riverfront Park in Orange.
As the FRCOG website notes, “Runoff and discharges from stormwater outfalls are the single largest source of pollution responsible for the water quality problems of many of the rivers, streams and lakes in the state. Recent assessment projects conducted for the Millers River watershed have identified stormwater as a major contributor of nonpoint pollution.” State agencies have created a series of LID Fact Sheets to assist local communities in Massachusetts. Another excellent technical resource for stormwater management issues is the UNH Stormwater Center.
MRWC’s efforts to promote LID emphasize stormwater management and reduction, and the Council has been educating residents and town officials throughout the watershed for several years. In 2009 it worked with the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition (MWC) and the Town of Winchendon to develop a Stormwater Management Bylaw that was approved by town residents. In 2012 MRWC became a partner in MWC’s new Billion Gallons a Year (BGY) Stormwater Reduction Campaign.
In 2011 MRWC joined with the Montachusett Regional Planning Commission (MRPC) to initiate a Stormwater Pollution Reduction Project that is providing technical support and training to 10 municipalities in the Worcester County portion of the Millers Watershed. Two workshops were conducted in 2011, and a third workshop and field trip are planned for 2012.
Workshop #1 – Presentations:
- Introduction to the Millers Watershed Stormwater Pollution Reduction Project. This presentation introduces the idea of improving water quality through the adoption of LID techniques. It also introduces the project team, the project approach (workshops, field trip, bylaw assistance), and presentsthe project as an educational opportunity for towns to receive technical assistance on bylaw development.
- Millers River Watershed Basics. This presentation explains what a watershed is, the water cycle, and how the watershed connects the ten municipalities. The interconnection of the municipalities makes the regional approach of this project necessary for long-term success of the project.
- Impairment of the Watershed. The objective of this presentation is to discuss the
water quality within the watershed, types of stormwater contaminants that lead to impairment, where contaminants come from, and their effect on quality of life.
- Low Impact Development. This presentation is an introduction to LID. A later workshop discussed LID methods in more detail. Discussion included what LID is, it’s history, and how LID is used to reduce stormwater runoff.