2019 Award Winners
City of Revere, MA
(in Collaboration with MWRA)
“Bringing Stormwater Education In and Out of the Classroom”
Town of Lexington, MA DPW
“Enabling Contractors to use your Municipal GIS”
City of Portland, ME, Department of Planning & Urban Development
“India Street Green Roof Incentive”
The city of Revere, Massachusetts, went beyond MS4 community outreach requirements to educate school-aged children about sewer and stormwater systems. Initially, the city reached out to the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) to obtain "Dwayne the Storm Drain" coloring books to distribute to local schools. The MWRA provides these books free of charge to communities within the MWRA service area and other communities can download the .pdf from the website to print and distribute on their own.
After the initial meeting with the MWRA education team, the city of Revere decided to do more than just distribute coloring books — they wanted kids to understand the importance of maintaining the sewer and stormwater system, as well as how students and their families directly affect it. After meeting with the principal and teachers at a local school, the area around the school was surveyed and three stations were set up: Clamshell Truck, CCTV Truck, and the Rebuilding of a Catch Basin. The students could rotate through to see the equipment and work up close.
Students and teachers alike loved the event. Most people have no idea what happens to things that go down a storm sewer. Those who participated in this program learned it doesn’t just disappear and were eager to share their newfound knowledge with other students and their families. The students had many questions for the city employees and were excited to learn more about the important work that they do to keep the city clean and wanted to know what they could do to help.
The water/sewer crew was happy to share their knowledge with the children and enjoyed the opportunity to engage with the community. The appreciation of the young students further encouraged the water crew to continue outreach efforts and programs. Teachers started talking about the program and the city was approached by other schools that wanted to bring the experience to their students as well. As an added bonus, as the program spreads, lots of work on the system is being accomplished in the immediate area of participating schools.
The town of Lexington, Massachusetts, Department of Public Works (DPW) believed too much duplicate data entry and wasted time was experienced when they executed projects with third parties involving GIS. Third parties either had their own GIS techniques/technology or they insisted on using paper and delivering hardcopy reports which town staff then had to manually enter themselves.
To resolve this situation, Lexington DPW implemented simple GIS data entry forms for use on common inexpensive tablets and added language to its contracts which mandated the use of these tools. Lexington’s PeopleGIS software is structured to require logins so that all data entered is tagged by user to provide a means of quality control and quality assurance. In addition, the software mapping interface guides contractors in the field by showing which catchbasins require cleaning based on percent-full history. A pilot study was defined for year 1. If successful, full deployment was scheduled for year 2 and beyond.
Lexington DPW’s catchbasin cleaning contractors were widely successful using tablets throughout the year 1 pilot and year 2 town-wide contract. Efficiencies were realized by public works staff, GIS staff, and contractors:
• Real-time tracking reduced the need for progress updates.
• Sump depth and depth-to-sediment entries automatically enabled the calculation of percent-full.
• The mapping interface showed the contractor which catchbasins to clean and which were already completed, enabling multiple teams to coordinate effortlessly, and eliminating any opportunity for missed catchbasins.
• Data was entered directly into Lexington’s GIS thereby eliminating multiple steps by multiple parties, saving everyone time and costs.
. The department plans to expand this platform to IDDE and culvert inspection programs, and eventually dozens of other field programs for other public works divisions.
Lexington DPW’s operations have been strongly and positively affected by this stormwater management concept. Handled professionally, with the right controls and approach, the concept of allowing third parties to use a community’s internal GIS tools has proven effective and worthwhile.
During an assessment of Portland, Maine’s rapidly transforming India Street neighborhood in 2015, consultants from the Urban Sustainability Accelerator, Portland State University, identified stormwater runoff, urban heat island effect, and general lack of open-space amenities as major challenges for this neighborhood. Adjacency to the city’s scenic waterfront and sloping topography, combined with the increase in development and hardscape, brought to the forefront the importance of slowing and treating stormwater runoff in this up-and-coming neighborhood. The resulting India Street Sustainable Neighborhood Plan centers sustainable growth and development in that vision, as well as development principles around quality infrastructure and responsiveness to climate change.
While developing the new form-based code tailored to address some of the challenges and needs of the neighborhood, staff and an advisory committee considered what tools might accomplish goals around public benefit and addressing stormwater runoff.
Much to the chagrin of developers, Portland has notoriously low limits on building height. The team’s proposition of a height bonus for projects providing 50 percent pervious lot coverage with a green roof was a bold move — and a successful one. In addition to the height bonus, a green roof also counts as pervious area in calculation of the city’s stormwater utility fee (a tax levied on properties based on the amount of impervious area). Green roofs must be designed to have a stormwater detention function and are governed by a recorded stormwater maintenance agreement. The 50 percent pervious lot coverage is also protected on the recording plan and condominium documents.
In the 4 years since the zoning policy adoption, five green roofs have been proposed within the India Street neighborhood. As of 2019, two of those projects are under construction or completed. The staff and advisory committee have since heard from several developers that the height bonus was critical to getting their projects to happen and that the green roofs also add amenity for their tenants in a neighborhood short on open space. These projects serve as a positive model showing that green roofs and other stormwater innovations are achievable, even in smaller cities like Portland.