2020 Award Winners
Narragansett Bay Commission
Macomber Stadium Green Stormwater Infrastructure Project
Town of Colchester, VT
Financial Rebates for Residential Stormwater Improvements
Town of Sudbury, MA
Mini Weather Stations Improve Winter Operations, Reduce Chloride Impacts, and Meet Stormwater Permit Requirements
The Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) is implementing the final phase in its effort aimed at lowering annual CSO volumes and reducing shellfish bed closures in accordance with a Consent Agreement with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM).
This work focuses on the Bucklin Point Service Area in Pawtucket and Central Falls, Rhode Island. Both cities have populations of underserved residents and immigrant communities. Portions of both communities are also designated as Environmental Justice (EJ) Areas.
In addition to traditional primary CSO control measures, NBC is developing Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) projects to reduce overflows to the Blackstone and Seekonk Rivers and improve water quality in Narragansett Bay.
One of NBC’s first projects for GSI implementation was at the defunct Macomber Stadium in Central Falls. NBC partnered with the City of Central Falls, Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, and State regulatory agencies to advance a GSI project that simultaneously meets stormwater and environmental cleanup goals while creating an upgraded multi-use stadium.
The new state-of-the-art synthetic turf athletic field includes a subsurface infiltration system and sand filter with enough capacity to treat and infiltrate a 25-year design storm. The system captures runoff from over 6 acres of surrounding impervious surfaces. Other GSI features surround the site include permeable paver mezzanines, tree box filters, and stormwater bioswales. New landscaping surrounds the site, providing much needed plantings. The stadium supports regulation soccer, football, and baseball fields for interscholastic athletics as well as community recreational leagues.
The project also restored a contaminated site to its highest potential. Over 10,000 tons of contaminated soils were removed while other soils were encapsulated under an engineered cap that doubles as the final site surface.
A socially-distanced ribbon cutting ceremony was held on October 9, 2020, followed by Central Falls’ first home high school soccer game in several years. During Mayor James A. Diossa’s dedication of the field, he remarked, “this completely rebuilt field is a great metaphor for the city of Central Falls. Pride has been restored for the entire community…No longer will this be known as the worst stadium/field in the state. Instead, it’s the newest and best” (Courtesy Pawtucket Times).
In Colchester VT, the stormwater utility did not have credits or incentives for residential properties that implemented stormwater management efforts. Recognizing that the sum of small actions makes a difference and that if everyone handled stormwater more effectively on site it would reduce the costs of stormwater management at the community level, staff started a program to address this gap.
Colchester partnered with the BLUE® program, a watershed education organization that offers certifications for properties based on voluntary compliance with site best management principles. Residents sign up for a free assessment for issues like standing water, erosion, etc. A BLUE staff member evaluates the site and offers recommendations. There is a tiered rebate program if the property owner chooses to move forward with any fixes.
The program uses existing community talent and efforts, provides individualized education for property owners on how they can support the watershed's stormwater management goals, and is entirely free for them. This work is funded through a combination of the utility's public outreach/education budget and a clean water incentive grant provided by the state of Vermont.
The pilot program started in 2019, and while many evaluations were completed, only $388 in total rebates were issued. Based on feedback, eligible site activities eligible were expanded, and rebates on certain activities were increased. In 2020, even with COVID impacting all Town operations, total rebates reached $1,854 and the impact of 2,812 square feet of impervious surfaces was mitigated. Twenty-six property evaluations were completed in 2020 and seven moved forward with implementation.
Utility staff usually have limited options to improve the drainage conditions on private property and it's up to the homeowner to find a solution. This program gives staff another tool in the toolbox, so "I'm sorry there's nothing we can do for you" turns into "have you heard of this program the utility runs? It could provide you some money to address the issue you're experiencing."
It also supports the stormwater program’s branding to offer this educational service to customers at no charge. And providing direct and tailored water quality education for sites in Colchester will have benefits as water quality issues come up for vote in the future. Having citizens with high "water quality IQs" will help as Colchester seeks to meet wide-ranging and substantial water quality goals.
Winter road maintenance represents a large portion of budgets for Public Works Departments and demands significant labor resources. In 2019, the Town of Sudbury developed and implemented a Road Weather Information System (RWIS) for local weather and pavement temperature forecasting. RWIS is a management decision support tool that uses weather stations placed at strategic locations to monitor atmospheric conditions and pavement temperatures. The data is incorporated into a model with weather forecasts to provide real-time data that recognize varying local climate conditions. This information is displayed in a web portal and pushed to staff through smartphones to optimize road treatments by reducing the use of salt and labor time during operations.
Implementation of RWIS at the local municipal level was previously cost-prohibitive but the use of newer mini RWIS stations have changed that. To complement the RWIS program, truck route optimization software and Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) devices, are being implemented to maximize the efficiency of the Town’s snow fighting. Truck routes are pre-planned and provide turn-by-turn directions, the AVL has proximity sensors to monitor plow up/down and spreader on/off conditions, and all vehicles that are fitted with spreader boxes have wireless air and road condition sensors sharing live readings of the road temperature, air temperature, humidity and dew/freeze point.
These efforts have resulted in:
• Better timing of salt applications to improve public safety and worker safety
• Improved understanding of road freezing conditions, particularly black ice conditions
• Reduced salt application expected following post-season analysis or in the future
• Reduced overtime and staff/subcontractor forces expected in the future
• Will result in a reduction of plow trucks with a savings of $100/hr/truck
• Reduced overall environmental impacts associated with vehicle use and wear/tear
• Longer rest periods for DPW staff, resulting in happier and better rested workers
• An effective tool to demonstrate to the public how DPW is working to improve operations
• More Town leadership support for DPW operations
The 2016 MS4 Permit requires MS4s to “establish and implement procedures for winter road maintenance…[and] minimize the use of sodium chloride and other salts…” RWIS is another tool to help meet these requirements and has real potential to minimize the use impact of chlorides to stormwater systems and receiving waters.
While the current RWIS pilot appears to be relatively cost-effective in terms of direct and indirect financial benefits, the goal is to further improve the benefit/cost ratio and impact on water resources with a better understanding of “real-time” road conditions. Overall, RWIS is very transferable to other communities to enhance winter operations and only an annual checkup and cleaning of the mini weather stations.