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Developers & Construction

Stormwater pollution often begins at construction sites, but it doesn't have to. Here are steps that developers can take to keep Massachusetts waterways clean.

Get Your Permit

Many kinds of construction sites are required by federal law to take steps to prevent stormwater pollution -- and permit requirements in Massachusetts are changing.  Check with the conservation commission for the town where your construction project is located before you disturb the soil.


Learn more about the stormwater permits from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. See also Massachusetts Stormwater Handbook & Stormwater Standards for more best practices to manage stormwater on your site.

Low Impact Development Practices

Low Impact Development (LID) practices protect and use the land’s natural features as a way to filter and slow the flow of stormwater. These practices manage stormwater at its source and protect natural areas, too. They can also save developers money by minimizing the need to add infrastructure like streets and gutters.  Examples of LID practices include:


Permeable pavement, such as pavers and crushed stone, can be used in place of asphalt and concrete to pave surfaces. These materials allow rain and snow to soak into the ground instead of flowing into storm drains. They are often used for parking lots, driveways, and sidewalks.


Bioretention areas (also known as rain gardens) are shallow depressions in the landscape that collect water that runs off from hard surfaces. These areas are planted with grasses and flowering plants that help filter the water as it soaks into the ground. They are often placed in parking lot islands or street medians.


Vegetated filter strips are broad, gently sloping areas of grass or plants that trap, filter, and slow stormwater runoff. They are often located by roads, parking lots, and driveways.

You can learn more about LID practices in this Massachusetts Low Impact Development Toolkit and on the Neponset Stormwater Partnership’s website.

Pre Construction Planning

A little planning ahead of time can go a long way to prevent stormwater pollution. Begin by choosing your site carefully. Place storage and maintenance areas far away from storm drains and waterways. Make sure that everyone working on-site knows their roles in carrying out your Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan, if you are required to have one.

For more useful tips, see General Construction and Site Supervision Stormwater Tips, published by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

Erosion & Sediment Control

It’s important that you pick a combination of erosion and sediment controls that work for your site. This includes practices that protect natural landscape features, like streams and wetlands, and stabilize soil. You will also need to put practices in place to protect and maintain silt fences, storm drain inlets, and construction entrances.

Check out the Neponset Stormwater Partnership’s construction webpage for a list of best practices.

Site Maintenance

A little good housekeeping can keep polluted runoff from ending up in nearby waterways. Sweep often, keep dumpsters covered, and remove trash daily. Store construction materials under a tarp or a plastic sheet to protect from rain and snow. Clean up small spills immediately using absorbent materials, like sand.

More cleaning and maintenance tips can be found in General Construction and Site Supervision Stormwater Tips, published by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation.

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