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Storm Water Management

Adopt-a-Drain Program
You can help keep our stormwater clean and prevent flooding! Click here to learn more about Medford’s Adopt-a-Drain Program.

Stormwater Management Program (SWMP) – Updated 6-2020

The program describes the activities and measures that are implemented to meet the terms and conditions of the 2016 EPA/MassDEP general permit for stormwater discharges. The permit became effective on July 1, 2018.

The SWMP has been revised to include updates for Years 1 and 2 of the permit term.

Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) Plan

The MS4 permit requires municipalities to develop and implement an IDDE plan to detect and eliminate illicit discharges to their stormwater system. Medford developed an IDDE Plan was to:

  • provide a standard protocol for the investigation and elimination of illicit discharges to the City’s Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4), and ultimately to surface waters within the City,
  • identify priority areas for investigation,
  • develop metrics for evaluating success, and
  • assess the availability of resources to implement the IDDE Plan.

Tips for Residents

Stormwater Management During Construction:

Keep our rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams clean — Bag Your Leaves!

  • Bag or compost your leaves, but do not rake them into the street or dump them down storm drains! Blocking storm drains can cause flooding, and large amounts of leaves in our water can lead to an excess of decaying organic material in waterways with results that are harmful to both humans and animals. Learn more here.

 Scoop the Poop

 Keep Your Lawn Green and Your Water Clean

What is Storm Water?

Storm water is rain and snow that runs off roadways and sidewalks and flows into storm drains in the street. This water then drains into the Mystic River and other local water bodies such as Wrights Pond. Unlike water that goes into the sewer and gets treated at a plant such as water from your sink or shower, storm water is not treated before it enters our waterways. Anything that goes down the storm drain flows directly to the river!

storm water

In urban areas, such as Medford, there is an increased amount of runoff. Porous surfaces such as forests and wetlands trap storm water before it enters storm drains. However, in Medford and other urban areas, there is an increased amount of impervious surfaces (roads, buildings, parking lots etc.) that does not allow water to drain through it. Because of this, storm water rushes down the streets in unnaturally large amounts and brings with it a great deal of pollution from the street.

storm water graphic

Why is Storm Water a Problem?

On its own, storm water is not bad. However, when storm water runs down the street and into our storm drains, it picks up a great deal of debris along the way. Storm water carries sediment and surface pollutants such as oil, gas, trash and litter, bacteria, pet waste, and other chemicals and dumps them into our waterways. This debris pollutes our waterways and makes them unsafe for both humans and animals.

storm water graphic

Why Does Storm Water Affect Me?

Dirty water affects everyone!

  • Stormwater runoff makes water unsafe for fishing, swimming, and even boating! The Mystic River Watershed area is only safe for boating 80% of the time and safe for swimming only 50% of the time! Swimming and boating in polluted water can make both humans and animals sick.
  • Polluted waterways brings down the property value of your home. It affects both homes directly on the water as well as other homes in the community. No one wants to live in an area with dirty water!
  • Cleaning up a polluted river can be economically draining for a town. Local governments have to spend money to clean up waterways rather than spending that money on other initiatives.
  • Companies are less likely to establish their businesses in a city that has a pollution problem. This causes an economic drain on a community.

For more information about what residents can do to prevent pollution in storm water is available here.

What has Medford Done for Storm Water Management?

Under the Federal Clean Water Act and US EPA regulation (40CFR 122.34), Medford is obligated to create a storm water management plan that includes best management practices. The six key elements of Medford’s Best Management Practices include: Public Education and Outreach, Public Involvement and Participation, Illicit Discharge detection and elimination, construction site storm water runoff control, Post-construction stormwater management in new development and redevelopment, Pollution prevention/good housekeeping for municipal operations, and Neighborhood storm water Pollution Prevention Some of Medford’s projects and initiatives include:

  • Increased Street Sweeping: Main roads are swept daily, April through November and all streets are swept every Spring and fall. In 2009, the city removed more than 1,000 tons of sand, trash, and debris through street sweeping. Street sweeping not only makes the city more beautiful, but also keeps all of that debris from going down the storm drains into the river.
  • Increased catch basin cleaning: Catch basin cleaning has increased from 1,300 catch basins in 2004 to 2,700 catch basins in 2008. The more catch basins that are cleaned, the smaller amount of debris is washed into Medford’s waterways.
  • Leaf/yard waste collection: The city has 14 yard waste collection days a year.
  • A storm water runoff awareness board in City Hall.
  • All of Medford’s storm water outfalls have been labelled and mapped so that the city can determine where pollution is originating.
  • Mercury, battery, and lead paint collection is available through the regional hazardous waste facility in Lexington.
  • Storm water ordinances and enforcement of fines to reduce storm water runoff.
  • Snow removal ordinances so that a smaller amount of debris and ice melting chemicals are washed down the storm drains when the snow melts.
  • Geese and dog waste ordinances so that pet waste does not flow into Medford’s water ways.
  • Partnerships with the Mystic River Watershed Association on river clean ups and grant projects.
  • Establishment of storm drain marking projects for local community groups to raise awareness about storm water runoff.
  • Rain barrel and compost bin programs.
  • Increased water flow to the Mystic and Malden Rivers through adaptation construction projects.

storm water outfall

For more information visit our Medford Go Green site.

The 2016 Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit:

The 2016 National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Stormwater Discharges from a Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems in Massachusetts (MS4 General Permit) is a jointly issued EPA-MassDEP permit.

The 2016 Massachusetts Small MS4 General Permit was signed on April 4, 2016, and became effective on July 1, 2018. The City of Medford submitted a Notice of Intent (NOI) for coverage under the MS4 General Permit, and it was granted authorization to discharge stormwater in accordance with the applicable terms and conditions of the MS4 General Permit.

In June 2019 the City prepared the Stormwater Management Program (SWMP). The program document describes and details the activities and measures that will be implemented to meet the terms and conditions of the permit. The document will be updated and modified during the permit term according to the activities the City is taking to implement the permit requirements.

If there are any comments or questions about the SWMP, please email Owen Wartella at