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Major storms can cause overland flooding and sewage backups into homes and businesses in low-lying areas. Although overland flooding can not always be prevented, sewage backups can be avoided if your property is properly equipped with a backwater valve.

Groundwater Conservation Overlay District

The Boston Redevelopment Authority (BRA) oversees proposed projects within the Groundwater Conservation Overlay District under Article 32. To review this document, visit the BRA's webstite. Article 32 prevents the deterioration and, where necessary, the restoration of groundwater. Any Applicant seeking a building permit for a proposed project within a Groundwater Conservation Overlay District shall be subject to the requirements of Article 32 where such Applicant seeks:

  1. The erection or extension of any structure, where such new structure or extension will occupy more than fifty (50) square feet of lot area;
  2. The erection or extension of any structure designed or used for human occupancy or access, mechanical equipment, or laundry or storage facilities, including garage space, if such construction involves the excavation below grade to a depth equal to or below seven (7) feet above Boston City Base (other than where such excavation is necessary for, and to the extent limited to, compliance with the requirements of Article 32)
  3. To substantially rehabilitate any structure;
  4. Any paving or other surfacing of lot area.
To determine if your proposed project is located within the District, follow the instructions below:
  • Click http://gis.cityofboston.gov/zoning
  • Acknowledge the Zoning Disclaimer
  • Type in address of the proposed project
  • Click “parcel information”
  • Click “zoning”, which is above the Parcel ID

The results will tell you if the property is in the Ground Water Conservation Overlay District or not.

In addition to complying with the BRA’s Article 32, Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) will review plans verifying that a suitably designed infiltration system equivalent to no less than 1.0 inches across the portion of the surface area of the lot occupied by the proposed project; and for substantial rehabilitation projects, it will be for lot areas occupied by the structure. This system shall be designed so that no negative impact occurs on neighboring sites.

The developer shall provide plans and calculations for the proposed infiltration system. The calculations shall demonstrate that the internal capacity of the infiltration structure and surrounding stone void space (maximum 30%) is greater than 1 inch of rainfall across the impervious area. The calculations and infiltration system must be stamped by a Professional Engineer registered in Massachusetts.

The developer must obtain a license from the Public Improvement Commission if the infiltration system proposed is located under the public way (sidewalk or roadway). For more information, please visit the Public Improvement Commission's website..

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