The City of Waltham has enacted ordinances in order to implement the requirements of the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) general permit for stormwater discharges from small municipal separate storm sewer systems issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; protect the public health, safety and welfare of Waltham residents; protect the natural resources, water bodies, groundwater resources, environment and municipal facilities of the City; satisfy the appropriate water quality requirements of the Federal Clean Water Act; eliminate or reduce the adverse effects of soil erosion and sedimentation as a result of land-disturbing activities; manage stormwater runoff to minimize adverse impacts to the City, its residents and the environment; and establish the legal authority to ensure compliance with the provisions of this article through inspection, monitoring and enforcement. The City of Waltham is the permitting authority for all land disturbing activities and requires the land owner to maintain all on-site stormwater control facilities and all open space areas (e.g. parks or “green” areas) required by the approved stormwater control plan. The City of Waltham will only provide construction permits to projects that establish a plan to manage stormwater runoff occurring during the construction process. The City of Waltham, under the NPDES program, also has the authority to inspect properties for noncompliance and can issue a notice of violation (NOV) for any deficiency or infraction onsite. Property owners are responsible for the maintenance of any stormwater facilities or practices located on the property. The City of Waltham has the authority to inspect stormwater facilities and practices in order to ascertain that they properly maintained and functioning.
Stormwater runoff is one of the most significant sources of pollution according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Surface runoff is able to capture pollutants and debris accumulated on street surfaces and carries this material to the nearest drainage catch basin. Catch basins are the main inlets to the stormwater collection system, which is also comprised of miles of underground pipes and manholes that convey stormwater to the outfall, which usually discharges into a waterbody such as a pond, brook, or river.
Proper management of stormwater is of great importance in order to minimize the entry of pollutants to the storm system and ultimately protect the integrity of our water resources. Stormwater discharges from the City of Waltham, like any other municipality with a dedicated storm water system, are regulated by the EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES). This system is implemented via a discharge permit that describes the minimum management activities the City must perform in order to improve the quality of its stormwater discharges. Management activities by the City of Waltham are divided in six categories (or minimum control measures) and described in periodic reports submitted to EPA. These minimum control measures are summarized below:
1. Public Education and Outreach:
Waltham’s residents play a very important role in stormwater management. Individual activities and behaviors may have a negative impact on the receiving waters. Trash, paint, solvent or pet-waste disposal; lawn-chemical application; and car washing or maintenance are just some examples of potentially polluting activities when not performed properly.
2. Public Involvement and Participation:
Stormwater management is much more effective in reducing pollution if the affected community is fully involved. Participation, partnership, and combined efforts through community groups working towards the same goal is one of the most powerful tools available to the City. Public involvement is meant to help spread the message on preventing stormwater pollution, to undertake group activities that highlight storm drain pollution, and contribute volunteer community actions to restore and protect local water resources.
3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) Program.
An illicit discharge is usually considered as any discharge into the storm drain system that is not composed entirely of stormwater. Illicit discharges are a problem because, unlike wastewater which flows to a wastewater treatment plant, stormwater generally flows directly into waterways without any additional treatment. Illicit discharges often include pathogens, nutrients, surfactants, and other pollutants. Examples of common sources of illicit discharges are houses with sanitary fixtures connected to the storm drain instead of the sewer, sanitary sewer overflows during severe storm events, washing vehicles in the street, not cleaning up pet waste in public streets and sidewalks, or worse yet, dumping pet-waste directly into catch basins. Runoff from overly fertilized lawn areas also contributes nutrients to the receiving waterways which can generate ecological problems.
4. Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control
Land disturbances due to construction have a great potential of generating sediment laden runoff which could easily reach the receiving water bodies and have very detrimental impacts on aquatic fauna and recreational water uses. Sediment in waterbodies from construction sites can reduce the amount of sunlight reaching aquatic plants, clog fish gills, smother aquatic habitat and spawning areas, and impede navigation.
The City of Waltham currently regulates stormwater management in construction sites through its Stormwater Ordinance to make sure adequate protection measures are being implemented. Developers and contractors must follow project-specific erosion and runoff control measures in order to avoid damage to the stormwater collection system, neighboring property and roads, or waterbodies.
5. Post-Construction Stormwater Management
Stormwater management does not end when construction ends as new developments or redevelopments may add new flows to the municipal stormwater collection system. Low Impact Development, which enhances stormwater infiltration, as well as adequate operation and maintenance of privately owned infrastructure, is key to meeting long-term targeted water quality standards. In order to guarantee proper post-construction stormwater management, the City of Waltham currently requires surface runoff be treated on-site via infiltration or detention practices whenever possible.
6. Pollution Prevention/Good Housekeeping for Municipal Operations
Municipalities perform numerous activities that may pose a threat to water quality if standard procedures are not implemented to prevent pollutants from entering the storm system. These activities include winter road maintenance, minor road repairs and other infrastructure work, automobile fleet maintenance, landscaping and park maintenance, as well as building maintenance.
Municipalities also conduct activities that remove some pollutants when performed properly. The City of Waltham performs periodic street sweeping of its streets and performs other maintenance and operation activities such as catch basin or drain cleaning on a regular basis. The City of Waltham has also developed Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plans (SWPPP) for areas where de-icing materials are being stored in stockpiles.
Any element or property of sewage, agricultural, industrial or commercial waste, runoff, leachate, heated effluent, or other matter, whether originating at a point or nonpoint source, that is or may be introduced into any sewage treatment works or waters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Pollutants shall include, without limitation:
The Stormwater Enforcement Agent shall enforce this article and any regulation, decision, permit or order issued under this article and may pursue all civil and criminal remedies for violations of their provisions.
If, in the estimation of the Stormwater Enforcement Agent, corrective work is required to protect the environment, and the property owner fails to perform said corrective work within a reasonable period of time as set by the Stormwater Enforcement Agent, he/she may order the same to be performed by a party to be determined by it, and the property owner shall be required to reimburse the City for all costs incurred. These costs will be in addition to the fines described above.
In addition to the other means of enforcement otherwise available for violations of this article, including, but not limited to, where applicable, the provisions of Section 1-13(a) of the General Ordinances, violations may be penalized, as provided by MGL c. 40, § 21D, pursuant to the noncriminal disposition provisions of Section 1-13(b) of the General Ordinances. Each day a violation continues shall constitute a separate offense. If the property owner violates more than one provision of this article or any condition of an approval issued hereunder, each provision or condition so violated shall constitute a separate offense. Fines issued and costs assessed or upheld by the City Council shall constitute a municipal lien upon the property and shall accrue interest as provided by applicable law. Upon request of the Stormwater Enforcement Agent, the Law Department shall take any and all legal action as may be necessary to enforce this article and permits issued pursuant to it. To the extent permitted by state law, or if authorized by the owner or other party in control of the property, the Stormwater Enforcement Agent, its agents, officers, and employees may enter upon privately owned property for the purpose of performing its duties and may make or cause to be made such examinations, surveys or sampling as the Stormwater Enforcement Agent deems reasonably necessary to enforce the provisions of this article.
Decisions or orders of the Stormwater Enforcement Agent pursuant to this article may be appealed to the City Council subject to the terms and conditions of the NPDES general permit. Appellants must show good cause why the decision of the Stormwater Enforcement Agent shall be overturned. The decision of the City Council shall be final, except further relief may be made to a court of competent jurisdiction.
A person is considered to be in violation of this article if he connects a line conveying sewage and/or wastewater to the municipal storm drain system or, once detected, allows such a connection to continue.
The Stormwater Enforcement Agent may suspend municipal storm drainage system access to any person or property without prior written notice when such suspension is necessary to stop an actual or threatened discharge of pollutants that presents imminent risk of harm to the public health, safety, welfare or the environment.
No person shall reinstate municipal storm drain system access to premises terminated pursuant to this section without the prior inspection and approval of the Engineering Department. An unapproved reinstatement shall constitute a violation of this section.
In the event any person fails to comply with an emergency suspension order or reinstates access in violation of this section, the Stormwater Enforcement Agent may take all reasonable steps to prevent or minimize harm to the public health, safety, welfare or the environment.
Notwithstanding other requirements of local, state or federal law, as soon as a person responsible for a property or responsible for emergency response for a facility or operation has information of any known or suspected release of materials which may result in discharge of pollutants to the municipal drainage system or waters of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or United States, said person shall take necessary steps to ensure the discovery, containment and cleanup of the release. In the event of such a release of hazardous materials, said person shall also immediately notify emergency response officials of the occurrence by calling E911. In the event of a release of nonhazardous materials, said person shall notify the Engineering Department in person, by phone or by facsimile no later than 4:30 p.m. of the next business day.
The Stormwater Enforcement Agent or appointed designee shall enforce this article and any regulations promulgated hereunder and may issue and prosecute violation notices and enforcement orders and may pursue all civil and criminal remedies for violations hereunder.
Waltham Stormwater Management Plan Webpage