2014 Stormy Award Archives

The Town of Lexington, Massachusetts Department of Public Works—Engineering Division won a STORMY Award for increasing efficiency by utilizing university student volunteers to improve illicit discharge detection and elimination (IDDE).

In the fall of 2011, Lexington’s engineering and conservation divisions piloted a volunteer water quality program to assist the town with identifying illicit discharges and improving the area’s stream health. Building on the success of the volunteer program, the Engineering Division developed a municipal partnership with the University of Massachusetts (UMass) Lowell. Lexington engineering staff worked directly with UMass Professor Edward Hajduk, who helped connect the town with student volunteers and ensured that program content met the needs of student interns’ curriculum. Town staff met with the student interns to discuss what their objective would be, why it was important, and how to accomplish their tasks safely.

The outfall monitoring program consisted of four separate trainings and 20 days of fieldwork. The town provided student volunteers with field kits, and they inventoried and monitored 80 outfalls over a two-year period, which included 141 samples collected for laboratory analysis and 47 samples screened for ammonia concentration using field test kits.

This program added 244 person-hours to the Town of Lexington’s IDDE program with little cost to the town. The students gained valuable field experience as well as mentoring from engineering professionals. The program’s success was founded on solid training and written health and safety protocols and has resulted in an ongoing internship program with the university. The program provides valuable data used by the Town of Lexington for IDDE and permit compliance. The program also is providing a research opportunity to compare the results of ammonia test strips and ammonia lab testing.

For more information on this program, click here.

Lexington, MA (Department of Public Works - Engineering Division) for: "Developing Municipal IDDE Partnerships"

Volunteers Expand Monitoring of Illicit Discharges

The following is reprinted with permission from the Water Environment Federation:

City of Bristol, CT for: "Unique Stormwater Program Funding for Proactive Operations"

City Trust Ensures Long-term Maintenance of Stormwater Controls

The City of Bristol, Connecticut received a STORMY Award for its proactive strategy to ensure and fund long-term maintenance of stormwater controls.

With significant development increases in the 1980s, the City of Bristol needed to increase maintenance of its stormwater control structures. The city created a fiscal entity called the Storm Water Control Trust, which requires organizations that propose stormwater control structures to specify a long-term ownership and maintenance plan. The proposers have three options: They can turn the structure over to the city with a monetary deposit for long-term maintenance, create a homeowner’s association that would coordinate maintenance, or relinquish ownership and maintenance responsibility to another entity.

Since its inception, homeowner associations have assumed responsibility for the long-term maintenance of five stormwater control systems, and three remain in private ownership. The trust has accepted 22 systems, and at the time of the award, three systems were pending deposit or construction.

After construction and once the municipal trust takes ownership of a stormwater control, the developer is no longer liable for that system, and the city monitors it. The trust keeps a detailed inventory of properties and inspects the systems three times a year. The trust also is the fiscal entity that receives funds, controls expenditures for the sole purpose of maintaining or repairing the systems, and oversees the investment portfolio to grow its endowment.

With an annual inspection and maintenance program, the stormwater control systems remain viable, and the program provides an effective means of controlling post-construction runoff, one of the minimum control measures of the city’s MS4 permit.

Click here for reference to Bristol's stormwater control trust ordinance.

"Regional Collaboration for Enhanced Stormwater Program Efficiency" - Northern Middlesex Stormwater Collaborative, MA; Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, VT; Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition, MA

Three entities received STORMY Awards for their regional collaborative efforts to improve stormwater program efficiency: The Northern Middlesex Stormwater Collaborative, the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, and the Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition.

In New England, a town is the basic unit of local government and has a well-established home rule form of governance, which provides municipalities with maximum authority to govern themselves. Municipalities are often small — between 5 and 52 km2 (2–20 mi2) — but are still the primary regulated entity under the MS4 general permit program. In New England, more than 440 individual municipalities are regulated under the MS4 permit program. This creates obvious redundancies and unique challenges for effective regional initiatives.

Joining Forces Improves Program Efficiency

The Northern Middlesex Council of Governments established the Northern Middlesex Stormwater Collaborative (NMSC) in 2013, and it is now comprised of 13 regional communities. The NMSC’s regional approach to meeting MS4 requirements is a more effective, watershed-based model. Additionally, it enables NMSC to enhance the quality of service provided to residents while minimizing costs through resource sharing among local governments.

Through the establishment of common programs, each community has reduced its responsibility for creating, implementing, maintaining, and managing separate but similar programs. In the past two years, the NMSC implemented a common public outreach and education program; regionalized stormwater-mapping activities; is acting to coordinate regional procurement for contracted stormwater services; and developed workshops and training sessions for municipal staff, boards, and officials.

NMSC was established using funds from two Community Innovative Challenge grants, administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance.

Cooperative Creates Public Awareness through One Message, One Outreach Effort

In northwest Vermont — with the support of the Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission — twelve MS4s have worked since 2003 to pool resources to engage the public in a one message, one outreach effort. They first conducted a public opinion survey to benchmark current public understanding in order to create measurable public outreach improvement goals. They then hired a social marketing firm to implement a combination of television, radio, and online advertisements to encourage residents to visit the program's website. Online, visitors can engage with messages linked to specific stormwater problems, such as pet waste, car washing, and excessive runoff. More recently, the MS4s also have contracted with a regional Natural Resources Conservation District to engage the public in hands-on projects, including rain barrel workshops and rain garden planting.

These cooperative efforts, known as the Chittenden County Regional Stormwater Education Program and Chittenden County Stream Team, fulfill the MS4’s public education and outreach and public participation and involvement permit responsibilities in an affordable and efficient manner. More importantly, these programs have established regional public awareness of the need for individual action on stormwater problems.

Through Cooperation, Coalition Increases Staff Training and Resources

Formed in November 2011, the Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition is a group of 28 Massachusetts communities. The coalition’s purpose is to address common priorities related to municipal stormwater management and to share solutions with other groups and organizations.

Also using funding from the state's competitive Community Innovation Challenge grant program, the coalition has created many products and purchased tools that enable its members to meet MS4 requirements.

Coalition programs and educational materials include staff training on inspection practices for stormwater infrastructure, the development of a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan template and training modules, as well as training on the use of salt calibration tools and water quality field test kits and meters. The coalition also has developed educational materials focusing on several target audiences and an online mapping and inspection platform enabling members to see infrastructure in adjacent communities.

Visit the Northern Middlesex Stormwater Collaborative's Web site.

Visit the Chittenden County Regional Stormwater Education Program's Web site.

Visit the Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition's Web site.