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Trash and sewage from boating pollutes our rivers and ocean. Empty waste holding tanks at pump-out facilities and properly maintain marine sanitation device hoses to prevent clogging and unnecessary odor.

Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development (GI/LID)

For most of Boston's history, stormwater management meant capturing stormwater and piping it quickly and efficiently to receiving waters, like the Charles, Muddy, Mystic and Neponset Rivers or Boston Harbor. However, in recent years the Commission has adopted a new "green" approach to stormwater management. The goal is to infiltrate, or treat, the first inch of stormwater, which substantially reduces pollutant levels in receiving waters and replenishes groundwater city-wide.

Phosphorus in the Charles River

In 2012 the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (Commission) reached an agreement (Consent Decree) with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA). The Commission's goal is to reduce the amount of phosphorus that discharges to the Charles River from stormwater outfalls. Stormwater runoff carries sediment, litter and other pollutants, like phosphorus, to receiving waters during storm events. Elevated phosphorus levels contribute to algae growth within the river, creating a hindrance to recreational swimming and boating, especially during warmer summer months.

In order to change the way that stormwater runoff impacts our waterbodies, the Commission now implements new "green" stormwater management techniques, including Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development (GI/LID) through its Site Plan Review process for re/development and construction in ongoing pilot projects throughout the City of Boston.

What is Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development (GI/LID)?

Green Infrastructure/Low Impact Development (GI/LID) features are stormwater management facilities that mimic nature. GI/LID features utilize natural hydrologic processes to replace or enhance man-made "grey" infrastructure, such as catch basins and pipes. In the natural world, rainwater enters the groundwater system by soaking into the soil, or infiltrating. Unfortunately, in most cities and towns, rainwater can no longer infiltrate into the ground because of buildings, pavement, sidewalks and other surfaces that water cannot pass through. These hard surfaces, called "impervious" surfaces, generate stormwater when rainwater falls and "runs off," rather than soaking into the ground. Conventional stormwater management, often referred to as "grey" infrastructure, uses catch basins and storm drains to capture stormwater and pipe it, untreated, to nearby waterbodies.

Some common GI/LID practices include:

Rain gardens
Rain Garden
RAIN GARDEN


  • Captures rainwater and allows it to filter through soil.
  • Uses vegetation to clean runoff before it enters the groundwater system.

Tree pits/trenches
Tree pits/trenches
TREE PITS/TRENCHES
  • Feature allows stormwater to infiltrate into the soil around street trees.
  • Uses trees to uptake the large volumes of stormwater running off surrounding areas.

Permeable paving surfaces
Permeable paving surfaces
PERMEABLE PAVING SURFACES
  • Include paving materials such as porous asphalt and concrete, and permeable pavers.
  • Allows for urban uses, like driving and parking, while providing a path for stormwater to reach the soil underneath.

Stormwater chambers
STORMWATER CHAMBERS
STORMWATER CHAMBERS
  • Retain large volumes of stormwater after storm events.
  • Allows stormwater to infiltrate into the soil without impacting urban uses, like driving and parking.

Drywells
DRYWELL
DRYWELL
  • Captures smaller volumes of stormwater after storm events.
  • Allows stormwater to infiltrate into the soil without impacting urban uses, like driving and parking.

GI/LID Projects in Boston

AUDUBON CIRCLE CONCEPTUAL RENDERING
AUDUBON CIRCLE CONCEPTUAL RENDERING

The Commission has undertaken several GI/LID projects to help demonstrate "green" alternatives to traditional "grey" stormwater management. These efforts include projects all over Boston, many in collaboration with other city departments, including Boston Public Works Department, Boston Transportation Department, Boston Parks and Recreation Department, Boston Public Schools, and Boston Planning and Development Agency. Other non-municipal, non-profit and neighborhood groups in the Greater Boston Area have also gotten involved in some of the neighborhood level GI/LID pilot projects.


BIORETENTION WASHINGTON IRVING SCHOOL
BIORETENTION WASHINGTON IRVING SCHOOL

Some of the larger GI/LID pilot projects include Central Square in East Boston, GI at Five (5) Boston Public Schools, and Audubon Circle. Smaller, neighborhood level, GI/LID pilot projects include rain garden bump-outs in Codman Square, stormwater tree trenches on Harrison Avenue and green streets in North Allston, are also planned. These projects incorporate a variety of GI/LID features that all provide solutions to stormwater runoff issues.


CENTRAL SQUARE CONCEPTUAL RENDERING
CENTRAL SQUARE CONCEPTUAL RENDERING

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