In mid-November our Watershed Ecologist and MassBays South Shore Regional Coordinator, Sara Grady, Ph.D. presented a primer on the Clean Water Act’s NPDES MS4* permit to the Norwell Selectboard. Commonly called the “Stormwater Permit”, the permit requires communities to reduce stormwater pollution through a multi-pronged approach involving tasks like education, infrastructure maintenance and improvement, pollution control, and monitoring.

Sara explained how stormwater causes ~55% of the impairments in Massachusetts waters that have been assessed and deemed polluted in some way by the Mass. Department of Environmental Protection. In our area, as well as others, most of the pollution is bacterial pollution. The tasks in the permit, called Minimum Control Measures, are intended to help reduce this pollution. They are:

  • Public Education (for residential, industry, commercial, and construction audiences)
  • Public Involvement (getting the public involved with developing the town’s Stormwater Management Program)
  • Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (finding illegal discharges to stormdrain systems from sump pumps and wastewater connections)
  • Construction Site Runoff (managing runoff from exposed soil during construction)
  • Post-Construction Stormwater Management (trying to retain stormwater on site)
  • Good Housekeeping/Pollution Prevention (street sweeping, catch basin cleaning, and pollution prevention at town facilities)

Sara was joined at the Norwell Selectboard meeting by Melissa Recos from Beta Group, Inc., who is the town’s consultant helping with development of their Stormwater Management Program and Plan. The town is also working on a stormwater bylaw that will be on the February Special Town Meeting Warrant. In addition, the Selectboard expressed some interest in learning more about stormwater utilities, which would collect a small fee usually based on the amount of impervious area on a property to fund implementation of the minimum control measures. Sara is hoping to bring a similar presentation to the Selectboards of all the South Shore communities, customized to their particular needs and interests, over the winter and early spring. To schedule a stormwater presentation for your town, email Sara at or call 781-659-8168.

* NPDES = National Pollutant Discharge and Elimination System, MS4 = Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System