Merrimack Valley Planning Commission Wins Grant to Help Cities Meet Stormwater Rules

Stormwater runoff. (File photograph.)

Merrimack Valley Planning Commission is one of five regional organizations across the state to receive a state grant help communities meet stormwater management requirements.

The Haverhill-based Commission was awarded $65,000 after being selected by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. It will collaborate with Greenscapes North Shore Coalition, which includes the Ipswich River Watershed Association and Salem Sound Coastwatch, to carry out local code review for 29 cities and towns. Grants enable communities to expand efforts to meet Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System—known as MS4, for short—permit requirements and reduce stormwater pollution through resource sharing.

“Proper stormwater management is crucial in our administration’s efforts to both protect and improve water quality throughout Massachusetts,” said Gov. Charlie Baker. “By partnering with these stormwater coalitions, we are able to achieve mutually shared goals that directly benefit both the public and the environment.”

The Planning Commission’s project will identify how “impervious cover,” such as streets, sidewalks, parking lots and other covered surfaces can be reduced and low-impact development can be promoted in development projects. The cover inhibits rainwater from naturally recharging the groundwater.

The project will also oversee the development of a mobile application that allows for uniform data collection during construction site inspections.

Besides the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, others awarded grants are Statewide Stormwater Coalition, Charles River Watershed Association, Massachusetts Maritime Academy and Mystic River Watershed Association.

Federal permit requirements include the development and implementation of public education programs, adopting more stringent local development rules; locating and removing pollutants that are illegally entering stormwater systems; and installing stormwater management systems.

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