Reduction of pollutants is a responsibility of the community as a whole. Pollutants are carried into waterways with precipitation and runoff, known as stormwater. Residents and businesses can help prevent pollution of stormwater and waterways by reporting issues such as, but not limited to, the following:
- Erosion and sediment issues related to construction activities
- Flooding or drainage problems
- Illegal dumping
- Improper Waste Handling
- Unusual discharges or odors from storm drains
Call the STORMWATER HOTLINE: (978) 772- 8240
These discharges can affect wildlife, water quality, health, and degrade the natural resources in the Town of Ayer and surrounding areas.
What is stormwater runoff and why does it need to be controlled?
Stormwater runoff occurs when precipitation from rain or snowmelt flows over the ground. Impervious surfaces like driveways and roads prevent stormwater from naturally soaking into the ground. When stormwater runs over roads, driveways and parking lots it can pick up debris, chemicals, dirt and other pollutants which enter streams, rivers, lakes, ponds and wetlands untreated. Anything that enters a municipal storm drainage system is discharged into these water bodies where it can adversely impact swimming, fishing and drinking water sources. Stormwater bylaws and regulations address this problem by regulating land-use disturbances that can increase stormwater runoff and pollutants entering water bodies.
Why are these bylaws being proposed at this time? What is the difference between the two bylaws?
Like many towns and cities in Massachusetts and throughout the country, AYER is required to comply with EPA’s Phase II stormwater rule, which requires towns to develop their own stormwater management program consisting of public education, public participation and control of construction site runoff and illicit stormwater discharges. In order to meet these requirements, towns are required to adopt stormwater management bylaws that will enable them to control their own stormwater pollution problems. There are two bylaws being proposed for AYER. One regulates illicit discharges to the existing storm drainage system, while the other regulates stormwater runoff from construction sites and other land disturbances. Both were prepared by the AYER Stormwater Committee with the assistance of the Nashua River Watershed Association and are based
on models developed by stormwater and engineering professionals in Massachusetts.
What do the bylaws regulate? Are there any exemptions?
The main stormwater bylaw regulates land disturbances greater than one acre associated with construction or reconstruction of structures. The illicit discharge bylaw regulates connections and discharges to the town’s storm drainage system. Under the former, normal maintenance of town roads, management of agricultural and forestry land, repair of septic systems, home landscaping, construction of fences and construction of utilities that do not alter drainage patterns are exempt and do not require a local stormwater permit. Under the illicit discharge bylaw, waterline flushing, discharges from lawn watering and irrigation, residential car washing, discharges of dechlorinated swimming pool water, water from exterior foundation drains, water from fire fighting activities and uncontaminated discharges from a sump pump are exempt.
In summary, these two bylaws are based on common sense measures that, when adopted, will give AYER greater control of its surface water and groundwater resources. They will help to ensure that AYER’s ponds, streams and groundwater remain of high quality in the face of increasing development. Both bylaws are available for review during normal business hours in the Planning office at AYER Town Hall. Both bylaws will be on the May 12, 2008 Special Town Meeting warrant.