Prevent stormwater pollution around your home by following the steps below.  Make sure that anyone that does work around your house (landscapers, contractors, handypersons) follow the same rules as well!

Pet Waste

Pet waste carries high levels of harmful E. coli bacteria and other pathogens that can wash into storm drains and waterways, increasing public health risks and causing infections.

When you walk your dog, make sure to carry a plastic bag with you so that you can pick up the waste and dispose of it in a trash can.

Read more about pet waste.

Household Chemicals

Chemicals, such as the common ones listed below, can be hazardous to waterways and should be disposed of at your local DPW or by following manufacturer's guidelines.

  • insecticides & pesticides
  • paints & solvents
  • used motor oil & other auto fluids

Never pour chemicals into storm drains. Avoid spilling onto paved surfaces. Clean up leaks and spills using an absorbent such as granular clay or kitty litter, and sweep up immediately.

Read more about household chemicals.

Lawn Care

  • Lessen or eliminate your use of fertilizer by mulch mowing, leaving your grass taller, or mulching your leaves.
  • Avoid spreading fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides on paved areas and sweep up any spills. Never use more than the directions call for, and use phosphorus-free fertilizers. In the state of Massachusetts, residents are not allowed to apply phosphorus-containing fertilizers to an existing lawn unless a soil test prescribes it.
  • Don’t pile grass clippings, leaves, or other yard waste in streams or wetlands, and keep yard waste from being washed into storm drains.  Consider starting a compost pile in your yard. Read more...
  • Use organic fertilizer whenever possible. Organic fertilizers release nutrients more slowly than conventional fertilizer, lessening the likelihood that excess nutrients will run off in stormwater.
  • If you are having problems with your lawn, don't keep adding chemicals. Test your soil to see if the underlying problem can be diagnosed. Soil can be tested through UMass Extension.

Read more about lawn care.

Patios & Walkways

  • Use permeable materials, like pavers or crushed stone for any "hardscape" projects, such as patios or walkways. Permeable systems allow rain and snow melt to soak through the material, thereby decreasing stormwater runoff.


  • Hire a WaterSense Certified Landscape Irrigation Professional to review your system at the beginning of each irrigation season.  This will help maximize the efficiency of your system, reducing your water consumption and saving you money.
  • Avoid over-watering to prevent excess runoff.  A lawn needs just 1" of water per week to be green. Be sure to check weather reports.
  • Upgrade to a moisture sensing irrigation controller to ensure irrigating only when needed, and avoid using old-fashioned irrigation timers.
  • Don't irrigate in the middle of the day or when it’s windy, in order to prevent evaporation and runoff.
  • Make sure that sprinkler heads are pointed at the lawn and not the pavement - adjust and fix heads as necessary.

Read more about efficient irrigation controllers.

Redirect Rainwater

  • Build a rain garden or grassy swale, which is a simple, specially designed area planted with native plants that captures runoff from parking areas, driveways, walkways and roofs and filters it through the soil, rather than allowing it to flow directly into storm drains, ponds or lakes.
  • Install a vegetated filter strip of native grass or plants along roadways or near streams. They help trap the pollutants stormwater picks up as it flows across driveways and streets.
  • Place a rain barrel under your downspout to easily capture rain for use around your property.
  • Redirect downspouts so that water flows into grass or shrubs instead of onto a driveway or sidewalk.
  • Install a dry well in your yard to capture excess runoff.

Read more about redirecting rainwater.

Septic Systems

  • Learn how your septic system works and how to regularly maintain it in order to avoid costly repairs and prevent pollution.
  • Don't drive or place heavy objects on the ground above any part of your septic system.
  • Pump out your septic system at least once every 1-3 years, depending on your household size and system usage.
  • Have your system regularly inspected to catch any issues early.
  • Don't flush unflushable items.
  • Remove your garbage disposal. Instead, compost food scraps or dispose of them in the trash.

Read more about septic systems.

Snow/Ice Removal

  • Avoid over-salting in the winter, and sweep up any excess or spills.
  • Store salt in a covered area.
  • Use a product that is non-toxic to vegetation and wildlife.
  • Do not dump snow into a body of water.

Vehicle Care

  • When washing your car or boat, park it in a spot where the wash water will run off into grass.
  • Never allow wash water to discharge to the street or storm drains.
  • Clean up any oil drips and quickly repair leaks.

Read more about vehicle care.

Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs

Never discharge pool water directly into a storm drain. If you choose to discharge pool water to a grassy area, first make sure it is dechlorinated. Water can be dechlorinated either naturally (allowing the chlorine to dissipate over time) or with the use of chemicals. If water cannot be dechlorinated, the water must be collected by a pool maintenance company.

Report a problem to help reduce water pollution!

Seen dumping in a storm drain? Spotted pollution in a waterway? Have a stormwater question?

Email us at or give us a call at 781-575-0354 x 300.

If we can’t solve the problem, we will relay it to the appropriate agency for further action.