Stormwater runoff is the water from rain and snow melt that flows across land and does not soak into the ground. As runoff flows over impervious surfaces (streets, parking lots and rooftops), it accumulates sediments, debris, oil, pet waste, fertilizers or other pollutants and is carried into nearby rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and wetlands. The runoff can significantly degrade water quality and aquatic habitat. Stormwater runoff also may increase flooding and erosion.
Stormwater is managed through a combination of engineering, construction, maintenance and public outreach to address the quality and quantity of runoff. The runoff in Gardner is directed to lakes and streams through a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). The City is authorized to discharge stormwater through the Phase II National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit for small MS4s. The Clean Water Act authorizes the
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and States, which are delegated the authority by EPA, to regulate point sources that discharge pollutants into waters of the United States through the NPDES permit program. The program is intended to improve water quality by reducing the discharge of pollutants from stormwater runoff into local storm drains, rivers, ponds, streams and other receiving waterbodies.
In addition to other requirements, in order to comply with the program the City must follow six Minimum Control Measures, which are implemented through a series of Best Management Practices (BMPs).
Everyone can do their part to reduce stormwater runoff pollution. Residents, businesses, developers and industrial facilities can reduce the adverse effects of stormwater pollution. The following links provide BMPs for residents, business owners, developers and industrial facilities.
What you can do to help prevent stormwater runoff pollution
- Use fertilizers sparingly and sweep up driveways, sidewalks and walkways.
- Never dump anything into storm drains.
- Properly dispose of all paints, used motor oil and other hazardous waste.
- Pick up after your pet and dispose waste in the toilet or trash.
- Compost your yard waste.
- Take your car to the car wash instead of washing it in the driveway.
The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), EPA and organizations throughout the State are great resources to learn more about non-point source pollution and stormwater management. Additional educational resources can be found at the links below.
Information on this page was obtained from the EPA, MA DEP, City of Andover, MA and City of Cambridge, MA stormwater pages.