Prevent stormwater pollution around your home by following the steps below.  Make sure that anyone that does work around your house (landscapers, contractors, handymen) follows 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

The following products 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 kitty litter or sand, and sweep up immediately.

Read more about household chemicals.

Lawn Care

  • Avoid spreading fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides on paved areas and sweep up any spills.  Never use more than the directions call for, and choose phosphate-free fertilizers whenever possible.
  • 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.
  • Use organic fertilizer whenever possible.  Organic or slow-release nitrogen fertilizer causes less harm to water.  Be sure to use fertilizer with no or low phosphorus—phosphorus causes algae growth in water.
  • If you are having problems with your grass, don’t keep adding chemicals.  Have your soil tested at the 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 reduce your water consumption, save money, and maximize the efficiency of your system.
  • 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 sensor 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 allow 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 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 rain gardens.

Septic Systems

Leaking and poorly maintained septic systems release nutrients and pathogens (bacteria and viruses) that can be picked up by stormwater and discharged into nearby waterways. Pathogens can cause public health problems and environmental concerns.  Learn how your septic system works to eliminate stormwater pollution, and to avoid costly clean outs and repairs.

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 soap will run off into the grass, rather than going into the street and down the storm drain.

Read more about vehicle care.

Swimming Pools and Hot Tubs

  • Never discharge pool water directly into a storm drain.
  • Dechlorinate pool, hot tub, or spa water with neutralizing chemicals, if water is to be discharged into the ground.
  • If water cannot be dechlorinated, the water must be collected by a pool maintenance company.

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

Call our Stormwater Hotline at 781-575-0354 x300 or email us at