2018 Award Winners

Massachusetts Municipal Statewide Stormwater Coalition (Statewide Coalition)

"Think Blue Massachusetts – A Statewide Education Campaign to Build Awareness of Stormwater Pollution"

Boston Department of Public Works

"Climate=Resilient Design Standards and Guidelines for Protection of Public Rights-of-Way"

Franklin, MA

"Franklin Tree Wells"

Complying with public education and outreach requirements of the NPDES General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems (MS4 permit) is a challenge for many municipalities. To address this, the Massachusetts Statewide Municipal Stormwater Coalition developed a stormwater education and outreach campaign that provides a framework for statewide recognition of critical issues related to stormwater.

The Statewide Coalition adopted the “Think Blue” program, already successful in Maine and other areas of New England. The Statewide Coalition, with a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), developed and began implementing the "Think Blue" Massachusetts campaign in 2018. The goal was to develop an integrated strategy that maximized the effectiveness and efficiency of public outreach and participation efforts at the state, regional and local scales.

The "Think Blue" Massachusetts campaign’s initial implementation included branding (the “Think Blue” ducky), a "Think Blue" video, a social marketing campaign using Facebook, the educational website "Think Blue Massachusetts," and other template materials.

“The [Think Blue Massachusetts] campaign is a toolkit to help cities and towns meet the public education and outreach requirements of MS4,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg in a MassDEP Press Release dated October 5, 2018. “The material is available online and can be easily downloaded and customized to reflect a community’s individual needs. It provides one-stop shopping for our local officials who are working hard to meet these requirements.” Adapting content from "Think Blue" Massachusetts enables MS4 permittees, not just those in MA, to meet their requirements without significant investment in their own campaigns.

Knowledge of the issues is critical for support when competing with various needs for limited resources. Not only has the "Think Blue" Massachusetts campaign helped towns and cities meet permit requirements, but it has also helped local decision-makers appreciate the importance of investing in stormwater. A great example of the benefits of "Think Blue" Massachusetts was how it supported the town of Ashland’s recent efforts to establish a stormwater utility. Additionally, as the public becomes more aware of the responsibilities expected of them and their community, they will take personal actions to reduce stormwater pollution.

Read a recent article in WEF’s Stormwater Report about the program.

In an innovative and proactive step to address acute and chronic flooding due to climate change, the city of Boston has prepared Climate Resilient Design Standards and Guidelines to provide a framework to translate conceptual flood resilience ideas into feasible, segmental projects that can be incrementally constructed over time. The first of their kind in the nation, the guidelines are organized to guide users through the process of evaluating applicable technical and design considerations, operations and maintenance (O&M) procedures, and related annual and capital costs for a proposed flood barrier concept. They also feature four sample barrier types and sample sites to provide example design considerations and real-world context for designing flood protection for public rights-of-way.

The Climate Resilient Design Standards and Guidelines are an intuitive, user friendly resource that is now live online for designers and engineering professionals to access. The guidelines translate conceptual ideas into feasible engineering and operational solutions and provide practical context with real-world examples. Engineers can use these considerations to augment the existing standard of care for projects, better understand the technical challenges associated with barriers, and identify opportunities to create value wherever feasible.

The guidelines’ climate design adjustments are structured by useful life with projections for the 2030, 2050, and 2070-time horizons (where data were available). The useful life estimates should inform the selection of design elevations for increased infrastructure resilience, with a goal of 2070 flood protection. As the impacts of climate change do not end in 2070, the guidelines also consider how an additional 2 feet of flood protection can be achieved as part of the current design. The guidelines are intended to be an online living document that is regularly updated with new information as climate projections are revised and projects are implemented, thus ensuring they remain a valuable resource for years to come.

The town of Franklin, MA, incorporates stormwater improvements in every roadwork project that takes place. In the past these improvements have included road narrowing, sidewalk elimination, rain garden installations and stormceptors. In some instances, none of these have been viable options due to funding limitations and/or location, so the Franklin DPW began investigating other BMPs that could be integrated. Conventional pre-manufactured tree pits appeared to be an appropriate option that would satisfy the town's stormwater management goals in addition to pleasing residents but were going to cost tens of thousands of dollars each. Not willing to let the idea die, the Franklin DPW and Engineering staff thought about the situation, ultimate goals, and cost factors and decided to design and build their own version of a tree well.

Tree wells are Franklin's attempt at creating a cost-effective and easy-to-install tree filter box. Instead of a proprietary structure that must be purchased from a third-party vendor, these tree wells can be made entirely from readily available materials. The tree wells themselves are constructed of a section of 48" diameter reinforced concrete pipe (RCP), stone, and filter/planting media. The use of tree wells allows the DPW to install a stormwater device capable of both treatment and infiltration where utility or right-of-way constraints limit other options. Crushed stone is installed at the bottom of the excavation and the RCP is set on top of the crushed stone bed. RCP is then filled with approximately 8 inches of crushed stone to provide storage space for stormwater. Over the crushed stone is roughly 2 feet of planting media which acts as a filter layer, over which a layer of river stone is laid. This prevents movement of the underlying planting media. A spillway is cut into the RCP at street level which provides a route of entry for stormwater runoff. The tree well accepts water until it reaches capacity and then excess water simply bypasses the tree well and continues down the edge of pavement. When the tree and filter medium have met their effective life, they are simply removed and replaced, making the maintenance of the tree well structure simple and cost effective.