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Baker-Polito Administration Awards $273,165 in Grants to Help Local Towns Meet Stormwater Permitting Requirements 

BOSTONBuilding on its commitment to protect and improve water quality across the Commonwealth, the Baker-Polito Administration today announced that $273,5165 in grants have been awarded to four multi-community stormwater coalitions across Massachusetts to help local cities and towns meet existing and upcoming stormwater management requirements. The projects, selected by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), were awarded to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Metropolitan Area Planning Council, Charles River Watershed Association, and the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission.

“Our Administration is proud to partner with cities and towns across the Commonwealth to fund efforts in these 103 coalition communities to reduce pollution from stormwater discharges,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grants play a crucial role in helping communities meet stormwater standards and in educating the public about how they can play a role in reducing pollutants in our stormwater systems.”

“Stormwater is a complex problem and a significant source of pollution in waterways across the Commonwealth,” said Lt. Governor Karyn Polito. “It is a problem that requires innovative solutions, and these grants will help fund creative ideas and programs for communities to share with each other to help solve common water quality issues.”

The funding awarded today will enable Massachusetts municipalities to expand their efforts to meet Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit requirements and reduce stormwater pollution through coordinated partnerships. There are more than 260 Massachusetts municipalities subject to the current MS4 permit, issued jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and MassDEP, which took effect on July 1, 2018.

“It is important for MS4 communities to band together to address stormwater problems as the pollutants are not contained to a single community, but impact waterways in numerous communities,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Beth Card. “This funding will enable groups of municipalities to expand their efforts to meet MS4 requirements and reduce stormwater pollution through coordinated partnerships that emphasize resource sharing.”

Permit requirements that the MS4 communities must meet include the development and implementation of a public education program, adopting more stringent local development rules, locating and removing pollutants that are illegally entering municipal stormwater systems, and installing stormwater management systems.

“Stormwater management efforts start locally but have major positive impacts on waterways and watersheds all across the Commonwealth,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “These grants will produce virtual training sessions to help with development, place map-based tools online to assist municipalities, utilize aerial imagery to collect data on impervious cover, and develop an interactive web-based toolkit with community characteristics and needs in mind.”

The groups receiving funding are:

Pioneer Valley Planning Commission – $83,895
The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission will host a series of virtual trainings on stormwater management for the developer audience in the Connecticut River Stormwater Committee and Neponset Stormwater Partnership regions and will promote site planning and design that meets new stormwater standards and integrates with climate change considerations. Currently available tools and incentives will also be highlighted through the trainings and all trainings will be recorded and edited for ease of use with developer audiences in other regions across the state and region

Metropolitan Area Planning Council – $56,800
The Metropolitan Area Planning Council will develop an online, map-based tool to assist municipalities with identifying sites for green infrastructure by evaluating both technical considerations (such as prevalence of impervious surface areas) and equity considerations (such as proximity to Environmental Justice populations). Key components of the project include working with a core team of municipal staff across multiple watersheds, stakeholder engagement to inform the tool development, and providing training materials to assist tool users.

Charles River Watershed Association – $61,970
The Charles River Watershed Association will partner with the University of Vermont Spatial Analysis Land and utilize a very high resolution 2021 aerial imagery available for Massachusetts along with locally available impervious cover data to derive land use and impermeable cover for the entire Charles River watershed. This data is critical to Charles River communities’ ability to successfully develop and implement Phosphorus Control Plans, that require estimates of phosphorus loads based on land use at near current conditions.

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission – $70,500
Merrimack Valley Planning Commission will develop an interactive web-based toolkit to facilitate the assemblage and dissemination of MS4 relevant model code language specific to community characteristics and needs. The toolkit will exist as a meta-compilation of model language resources with statewide applicability for a simplified and streamlined code revision experience aiding in MS4 compliance and proactive stormwater mitigation efforts.

“Through its Stormwater Collaborative, the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission (MVPC) has worked tirelessly to address the environmental and health concerns that come with stormwater, which, when left untreated, often contains dangerous pollutants, and can contaminate water supplies,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen). “These important funds will go a long way in supporting the MVPC’s mission to protect our local natural resources.”

“I’m thrilled to hear that Pioneer Valley Planning Commission will be receiving this critical grant funding from MassDEP,” said State Senator Adam Gomez (D-Springfield). “This funding will help our local community get the training they need to meet existing and upcoming stormwater management requirements. Thank you, MassDEP for considering PVPC for this important grant.”

“This grant will go far in helping our region assemble the tools we need to meet our MS4 requirements,” said State Representative Andy X. Vargas (D-Haverhill). “I'm grateful to MassDEP for issuing this grant to our planning commission, and to MVPC for taking on the challenging but critical work to reduce our stormwater pollution and create a heathier and safer environment for our residents.” 

The grants are funded through the Commonwealth’s Fiscal Year 2023 capital plan’s MS4 Municipal Assistance Grant Program. Find more information on the MS4 permit and its requirements on the U.S. EPA’s website.

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.