To advance local waterway pollution control efforts, the Baker-Polito Administration recently announced more than $1.15 million in grants administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protect (MassDEP) to support eight projects targeting stormwater runoff and erosion across the Commonwealth.

The grants, which utilize funds from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) awarded under section 319 of the Clean Water Act, will fund projects based in Braintree, Milton, Monterey, and Sturbridge, as well as in Barnstable, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire Counties.

“Addressing pollution from stormwater is critically important to reduce threats that directly impact the health of the Commonwealth’s rivers, lakes and wetland areas,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “Significantly, these MassDEP grants bring state and federal resources together to help improve water quality in watersheds within communities across Massachusetts.”

“The Commonwealth is proud to partner with local communities and regional organizations to help keep nonpoint source pollution from contaminating our environment,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These funds will directly benefit drinking water sources, aquatic recreational areas, and marine ecosystems.”

These eight projects receiving grants will utilize the funds to address waterway pollution. Details include:

  • Four of the projects will implement or demonstrate best management practices (BMPs) to mitigate the effects of polluted stormwater runoff;
  • One project will conduct an outreach and education/healthy watersheds project in Barnstable County;
  • Two projects will carry out healthy watershed projects in Franklin County; and,
  • One project will support two agricultural regional nonpoint source coordinators for Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden Counties.

“Comprehensive watershed protection efforts like these are critical in order to keep our communities safe and healthy,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “These grants will help local officials and regional groups to protect and enhance vital local watershed resources from nonpoint source pollution.”

The grant program focuses on implementation of measures to control nonpoint source (NPS) pollution to both 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.

“The State of Massachusetts is taking a big step toward cleaner waterways by funding eight local projects aimed at reducing nonpoint source pollution,” said EPA Acting Regional Administrator Deb Szaro. “Phosphorus and nitrogen are pollutants that have been exacerbating problems like toxic algae blooms in the Commonwealth and reducing the runoff that carries these pollutants is a big first step in water quality.”

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.

“These projects represent important approaches to addressing the issue of stormwater,” said Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “The reduction of bacteria and nutrients in our waterbodies through the implementation of green infrastructure is a key step in our water resource protection efforts across the Commonwealth.”

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, and staff from the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the EPA.

The eight grants awarded are:

Franklin Regional Council of Governments – $78,450

The project will update and align local land use regulations to protect healthy waterbodies and reduce pollutant loadings to impaired waters from new development and redevelopment projects.

Massachusetts Association of Conservation Districts – $241,848

The project will support two Agricultural Nonpoint Source Regional Coordinators across Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden Counties.

Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Testing Center – $72,385

The project will demonstrate the treatment efficacy of wood-based (lignocellulosic) denitrification systems for pathogens and selected Contaminants of Emerging Concern to determine the feasibility of their implementation for the overall benefit to public health and the environment.

Town of Milton – $158,500

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

Franklin Regional Council of Governments – $105,200

The project will provide towns with a simple way to assess their unpaved roads, classify them, and then use that classification to select sediment stormwater management BMPs and appropriately sized road drainage culverts for increasing stormwater flows due to climate change.

Town of Braintree – $138,250

The project consists of design and construction of BMPs to reduce pollution from stormwater runoff discharging into the Monatiquot River watershed.

Town of Monterey – $139,000

The project will address the stormwater runoff that is affecting Lake Garfield.

Town of Sturbridge – $225,000

The project will apply an alum treatment to reduce internal phosphorus loading in Quacumquasit Pond.

“Receiving this grant provides a wonderful opportunity for the Town of Milton,” said State Senator Walter F. Timilty (D-Milton). “Unquity Brook is an important tributary. It feeds into the Neponset River and is a spawning ground for the imperiled Rainbow Smelt. By improving both stormwater management and eliminating sewage contamination, we will be leading the way toward significant improvements in the brook’s water quality. In addition, we will be restoring the Smelt breeding grounds.”

Congratulations to Milton on being awarded this important grant,” said State Representative Bill Driscoll Jr. (D-Milton). “These funds will be critical in ensuring stormwater runoff pollutants are reduced significantly in the Unquity Brook watershed, an ecologically and economically important breeding ground for the Rainbow Smelt fish.”

“I’d like to commend the town of Sturbridge and MassDEP for all they do to protect Quacumquasit Pond,” said State Representative Todd Smola (R-Warren). “Access to clean water doesn’t happen on its own and I am very appreciative of their efforts.”

With the addition of the federal fiscal year 2022 funding awarded today under the grant programs, the Commonwealth and EPA have provided more than $21 million since 2007 for 124 projects to address NPS pollution across the state. Additional information about the non-point source pollution program, can be found here.

MassDEP’s mission is to protect and enhance the Commonwealth’s natural resources – air, water and land – to provide for the health, safety and welfare of all people, and a clean and safe environment for future generations. In carrying out this mission, MassDEP commits to address and advance environmental justice and equity for all people of the Commonwealth, provide meaningful, inclusive opportunities for people to participate in agency decisions that affect their lives, and ensure a diverse workforce that reflects the communities served by the agency.