Image courtesy of the Mystic River Watershed Association

The Baker-Polito Administration announced more than $1.4 million in grants to support six projects targeting water pollution from stormwater runoff and erosion across the Commonwealth. The grants, which utilize funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), will fund projects in Holland, Stoughton, Arlington, and Sutton, as well as in Essex, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire Counties.

Governor Charlie Baker said, “Addressing the effects of polluted stormwater runoff on Massachusetts waterways is vital to protect both the environment and public health. Through these grants, we are able to work with the federal government to provide our local and regional partners with the resources needed to improve water quality.”

Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito, “To keep communities healthy, we must help them maintain a clean and safe system of water resources. These water protection grants will help local and regional officials identify stormwater issues and address them promptly.”

Four of the recommended projects will implement or demonstrate best management practices (BMPs) to mitigate the effects of polluted stormwater runoff, one project will carry out the regional coordinator initiative in Essex County, and one project will support an agricultural nonpoint source coordinator to work with farmers in the Connecticut, Deerfield and Westfield River watersheds.

Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides, “Nonpoint source pollution is a serious challenge to water quality in our waterways and wetlands. These grants will support important water pollution prevention projects, which help preserve our environment, protect the Commonwealth’s natural resources and ensure that our communities are healthy and safe.”

The grant program focuses on implementation of measures to control nonpoint source (NPS) pollution to surface and groundwater. Unlike pollution from industrial facilities and sewage treatment plants, NPS pollution is unregulated and comes from a variety of sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and ground waters.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel, “EPA is excited to help support Massachusetts’ efforts to reduce nonpoint source pollution in local waterways. On-the-ground pollution reduction projects, designed by local experts, are a very effective way to improve water quality and protect our shared environment. The projects being announced today include high-priority areas that should make a real and lasting difference improving the health of Massachusetts waters and communities, while supporting the local economy.”

Common types of NPS pollution include phosphorus and nitrogen from lawn and garden fertilizers and agricultural operations, bacteria from pet waste and waterfowl, oil and grease from parking lots and roadways, and sediment from construction activities and soil erosion.

“It is critical for the health of our lakes, rivers and watersheds to eliminate water contaminants from all sources,” said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), which is administering the grant program. “Clean lakes and streams are essential to thriving communities and healthy ecosystems.”

The projects will help to protect Massachusetts’ water resources by restoring and preserving watershed areas, constructing BMPs, demonstrating innovative technologies, and educating the public on how to protect sensitive natural resources. Recipients include municipalities, regional planning agencies and environmental organizations.

Each of the projects was reviewed and approved by MassDEP’s regional and program staff, the MassDEP/Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Proposal Review Committee, and the EPA. Funding for the projects will be available in early 2021.

The six grants awarded are:

Mystic River Watershed Association – $498,715

The project will install 50 smaller-scale infiltration trenches in three municipalities, offering cost-effective phosphorus reduction in a highly urbanized setting.

Town of Stoughton – $97,482

The project consists of design and construction of BMPs to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff discharging in the Steep Hill Brook watershed.

Manchaug Pond Foundation – $225,190

The project will implement a combination of structural and non-structural agricultural BMPs throughout the watershed.

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission – $100,000

The project will support a Regional Nonpoint Source Coordinator in Essex County.

Town of Holland – $256,871

The project will address the runoff from Mountain Road and Sandy Beach Road that is affecting Hamilton Reservoir.

Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts – $259,000

The project will support a Nonpoint Source Coordinator to work with farmers in the Connecticut, Deerfield and Westfield River watersheds.

With the addition of the federal fiscal year 2021 funding awarded today under the grant programs, the Commonwealth and EPA have provided more than $20 million since 2007 for 116 projects to address NPS pollution across the state.

Here is additional information about the non-point source pollution program.

MassDEP is responsible for ensuring clean air and water, safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes, timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills and the preservation of wetlands and coastal resources.