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New Stormwater Ordinance coming to New Bedford


New Bedford appears to be the latest Massachusetts municipality set to create a new ordinance with respect to stormwater runoff. The mayor submitted an amendment to the city's Code of Ordinance on Feb. 21 to include a stormwater management ordinance. The ordinance will help the city comply with the EPA's National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems (known as NPDES) Stormwater Phase II permit program. This program, which is based on the density of population of an area, has a goal of reducing pollutants and contaminant being discharged by municipal storm sewers.

The proposed ordinance would establish minimum requirements to control adverse effects of runoff, reduce sediment and nutrient loading, and control erosion and sedimentation from construction activities.  Once in effect, any developer who will significantly alter or move land, change drainage patterns, or adding impervious areas, would have to obtain a stormwater permit from the City through the Department of Infrastructure.

The City Ordinance would likely be similar to guidelines set out by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection in its Stormwater Policy released in 2008. The MA DEP Stormwater Policy applies to certain projects that would also require a filing under the Wetlands Protection Act. While we haven't seen the proposed ordinance, we assume it would apply similar standards to development projects whether they are upland project or within the jurisdiction of the Wetlands Protection Act.

describe the imageNorfolk Ram is a leader in Massachusetts in Low Impact Development strategies for stormwater management. For more information on Low Impact Development, please download our free LID presentation and please check out our Raingarden brochure which highlights the benefits of one such LID strategy known as raingardens, or bioretention cells.  For further information on stormwater management, please see our stormwater management and drainage page or contact John B. McAllister, P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.

Information for this blog post was taken from a March 12, 2013 article by Auditi Guha in the Standard Times titled " New Bedford to adopt new stormwater ordinance."

Volunteers for Raingarden Planting in Westport this Saturday?


As part of the Westport Middle School Stormwater Project, Norfolk, along with the Westport River Watershed Alliance will be working with volunteers to plant some of the raingardens that were installed over the summer.

The Stormwater Project is being funded through a S. 319 Non-point source pollution grant from the MA DEP and EPA Region 1.  If there are any volunteers who would like to help out this Saturday from 10-12, please contact Roberta Carvahlo at the Westport River Watershed Alliance.

Download Norfolk Ram's free Raingarden Brochure.

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Norfolk's Raingarden Designs featured in Local Newspaper Story


Norfolk's engineers have been working with officials with the Town of Westport and the Westport River Watershed Association to design and implement a series of stormwater management BMPs, including raingardens to treat runoff from the impervious areas at the Westport Middle School. Construction on some of the BMPs began in August, with the Westport Highway Department installing the BMPs. Recently the Westport Shorelines newspaper came out and did a cover story on the project and its benefits to the Head of the Westport river. You can read the Shorelines article here.

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The project is being funded through the EPA and MA DEP through a section 319 Non-point source Pollution Grant, which Norfolk helped the Town of Westport successfully apply for.  You can read more about Norfolk's role in the project from our Project Summary on our Municipal Services Page .

If you have questions about stormwater management, low impact development, or even about grant funding for stormwater projects, please contact John B. McAllister P.E. at (508) 747-7900 extenions 117 or

Section 319 Non-point Source Pollution Grants to be released


Norfolk engineers met last week with representatives from MA DEP and the US EPA regarding the annual 319 Nonpoint source pollution grant program. Norfolk has worked on several successful grant projects in the past for Towns like Cohasset and Yarmouth, and is currently working on projects in Cohasset, Hull, Sherborn, and Westport.

The grant program aims to address non point source pollutants affecting Massachusett's bodies of water.   One of the ways Norfolk has been able to help its clients win the grants and implement them is through engineering design incorporating low impact development. Raingarden, Bioretention cell We have helped design and implement bioretention cells, also known as raingardens, grassed swales, sediments forebays, constructed wetlands, and subsurface recharge systems, all known as stormwater Best Management Practices.

 To find out more about the grant opportunities available either through the 319 program or other state and federal grants, please contact John McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.

Download our Free Grant Application Success Roadmap. 

Norfolk attends Massachusetts Municipal Conferences


Norfolk Ram Group recently attended the annual Massachusetts Municipal Association conference at the Hynes Convention Center in Boston, MA.  The annual conference is a two day event for Municipal officials to:

• Learn about solutions to problems facing thier community
• Meet people who can assist with resources and ideas
• Attend programs that will strengthen their ability to lead and serve their community

Norfolk was at the conference to meet with Municipal officials to discuss issue related to their specific communities and strategies and grants available for addressing those issues.

Norfolk will also be attending the annual Massachusetts Association of Conservation Commissioners conference at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA in March.  The conference is an all day event where enviromental officials (local, state, and federal) can come to discuss and get educated on environmental rules, regulations and solutions.  Norfolk will be at the conference to discuss environmental concerns and strategies such as Low Impact Development for stormwater runoff and grant opportunities for preserving or enhancing environmental resources.

To learn more about the Municipal engineering services Norfolk can provide, including grant assistance, peer reviews and engineering design, please visit our Municipal engineering page on our website, or contact John McAllister at (508) 747-7900 extension 117.


Successful LID – case study: Casey Tree’s Washington DC headquarters



 Washington DC is a dense urban area, where the city must balance economic and environmental costs of overloaded storm drain systems. But Washington DC has moved away from traditional man-made infrastructure and is now looking for natural ‘’green’’ utilities solutions.

A new draft regulation would require every property owner to retain at least 90% of their property's rainfall runoff or 1-2 inches during a 24-hour rainfall. The Department of the Environment (DDOE) and D.C. Water would like to introduce charges and a stormwater fee discount program to foster the implementation of stormwater runoff management measures.

        Casey Trees, a Washington DC – based non –profit, has a simple solution for the City to be sustainable and to efficiently manage stormwater runoff. The organization fiercely believes in stormwater benefits of large trees. Their goal is to protect the existing trees of the City and to encourage it to add new ones. By planting more trees and nourishing a large urban tree growth, Washington DC could mitigate its infrastructure problems. This is part of a successful Low-Impact Development – project (LID) that Casey Trees experienced for its new headquarters on 12th Street.

Casey Trees wanted to have a building that promotes the efficient role of trees in stormwater runoff management, encourages the city to plant more trees and could be a model for LID. With this building, Casey Trees now belongs to the SITES Pilot program (Sustainable Sites Initiative), with only 150 other projects in the United States.

Wiles Mensch Corp. (WMC) was hired by Casey Trees for the project. This sustainable practice civil engineering firm strives to encourage LID approach to stormwater management. They designed a significant number of rain garden and bioretention areas in and around Washington DC.

Rain garden and bioretention planters are efficient systems in terms of stormwater management and have many advantages:

  • They help avoid overloaded sewers by reducing the flows discharging to the public sewer system
  • The help with a reduction in the potential for combined sewer overflows
  • They encourage groundwater discharge

However, people have been skeptical about the possibility to meet the standard in an urban area. But Casey Trees’ headquarters are a perfect example of how possible and how successful it can be. Their building includes 4 LID strategies:

  • A roof with 25 % vegetation
  •  A raingarden
  • A street tree bioretention system
  • A cistern to collect roof runoff and overflows

Here is some more detail about the LID practices implemented :

THE STREET TREE BIORETENTION SYSTEM:  A bioretention system under paved surfaces.

This is an innovative means that enables a dense urban area to reduce stormwater runoff by reducing the amount of open space needed for bioretention. 

The key of this system is the Deep Root Silva Cell, which is an underground soil and stormwater management system installed under the sidewalk and connected to the rain garden on the other side of the sidewalk. It enables the City to store more water and to extend tree rooting volume.


Tree bioretention systems are useful and efficient in terms of stormwater quantity and rate-control. This efficiency comes from three processes:

  • Soil water storage : bioretention with trees helps direct stormwater runoff from nearby impervious surfaces into soil under suspended pavement
  • Tree interception : this is  a natural stormwater treatment. Rainfall that remains temporarily on tree leaves and stem surfaces then flows down to the ground.
  • Tree evaporation : this is a natural stormwater treatment as well, that helps reduce stormwater volume stored in the soil with evaporation of water from soil.

Thus, trees can provide several stormwater benefits.

Casey Trees’ headquarters are a tangible example of these benefits :  they planted many different sorts of trees in the rain garden and in the retention planters. The system reached its goal because it is now able to manage 5 inches of water runoff and the more the trees will grow, the more efficient the system will be thanks to interception and evaporation. 


A tree bioretention system can consequently improve water quality of stormwater. The bioretention soil filters stormwater and removes some pollutants. It enables the soil’s sorption capacity to recharge in between rain events.

Bioretention is one the best stormwater control measures for pollutants removal. Trees can significantly help to remove nutrients – nitrogen and phosphorus. Everyone benefits from this situation. The trees uptake the nutrients and the City has less nutrients and stormwater flow to deal with.

The innovative LID- project carried out by Carey Trees is a model project: by planting trees and implementing LID strategies, they put forward a new way to efficiently mitigate stormwater in a dense urban environment.

If you have any question about LID-projects and stormwater runoff management, please contact John McAllister at or at (508) 747 - 7900 x 117.

Download our complimentary 'Low Impact Design (LID) Executive Overview' here.

Information in this article taken from Sept 2011, article by Al Key and Nathalie Shanstrom , published in

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