Planning Commission Receives State Grant to Help 15 Communities Meet Stormwater Rules

Stormwater runoff. (File photograph.)

Haverhill-based Merrimack Valley Planning Commission yesterday was awarded $45,000 from the state to help its 15 member communities meet existing and upcoming stormwater management rules.

The grant is part of $300,000 awarded to five multi-community stormwater coalitions by the Department of Environmental Protection. The Planning Commission will create a geospatial tool that helps to identify properties that can be retrofitted for stormwater management.

According to the state, “Best Management Practice cut sheets will be developed for two sites in each community. As part of the planning tool, the Merrimack Valley Stormwater Collaborative will place special emphasis on environmental justice communities.”

Besides Haverhill, the Commission serves Amesbury, Andover, Boxford, Georgetown, Groveland, Lawrence, Merrimac, Methuen, Newbury, Newburyport, North Andover, Rowley, Salisbury and West Newbury.

Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection said, “Stormwater is a significant source of water pollution across the state and is a complex issue that requires innovative ideas and cooperative solutions.” He added, the money will “lessen the costs of permit compliance locally.”

The grants from the Baker-Polito Administration enable communities to expand efforts to meet Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System permit requirements and reduce stormwater pollution through coordinated partnerships that emphasize resource sharing. There are 260 cities and towns subject to the current permit, issued jointly by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and MassDEP, which took effect in 2018.

Permit requirements include the development and implementation of a public education program, adopting more stringent local development rules, locating and removing pollutants that are illegally entering municipal stormwater systems, and installing stormwater management systems.

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