When precipitation (stormwater) falls on roads, streets, rooftops and sidewalks, it can push harmful pollutants like fertilizer, pet waste, chemical contaminants and litter into the nearest waterway. Auburn’s stormwater is regulated under the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) Phase II Massachusetts Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) Permit. This permit was signed April 4, 2016 and became effective July 1, 2018. The Department of Public Works collaborates with other Town departments to actively ensure compliance with the MS4 program by implementing the Town’s Stormwater Management Program (SWMP).
Any comments on the SWMP or the stormwater program in general may be emailed to the Engineering Division at ECorey@town.auburn.ma.us. All comments will be taken under consideration and applicable documents will be updated.
The MS4 permit program consists of six minimum control measures:
Clean water and responsible stormwater management is a shared responsibility. There are a number of ways that residents, businesses, industries, and developers can contribute to a sustainable stormwater system.
Public involvement in stormwater pollution prevention and the Town’s stormwater program is highly encouraged. If you would like to participate or have ideas for ways to prevent stormwater pollution in Auburn, contact the Engineering Division.
The purpose of an IDDE program is to systematically find and eliminate sources of non-stormwater discharges -- also known as "illicit" or "illegal" discharges -- to the drainage system. Under the General By-Laws (Chapter XIV: Stormwater Management, 14.02: Illicit Discharge (PDF)) that the Town acts to help prevent and remove illicit discharges to the drainage system. Additional actions the Town has implemented under the IDDE program include:
The objective of an effective construction stormwater runoff control program is to minimize or eliminate erosion and maintain sediment on site so that it is not transported in stormwater and allowed to discharge to waterbodies. Multiple Town entities including the Planning Department, Development and Inspectional Services, Department of Public Works and Conservation Commission work together to oversee and enforce the Town’s construction runoff control program.
In May 2021, modifications were passed for General Bylaw, Chapter XIV: Stormwater Management at the Annual Town Meeting. These changes were necessary to meet the requirements of the 2016 MS4 permit. The updated bylaw is available here: https://www.auburnguide.com/251/Town-Charter-and-Bylaws and its associated regulations are available here Stormwater Rules and Regulations (PDF)
As a result of the updated bylaw, any activity within Auburn that results in land disturbance activities and/or increases in impervious area greater than the thresholds described in the bylaw must submit a Land Disturbance Permit. Information on the permit can be found at the Land Disturbance Permit page.
New development and redevelopment that disturbs one or more acres of land are required to try to manage stormwater where it falls and retain it on site. This can be accomplished through the use of low impact development techniques and the retention or treatment of runoff on site using green infrastructure.
The Town implements good stormwater housekeeping practices in municipal operations to prevent pollution from entering the drainage system. Over 87 miles of roadway are swept and approximately 1,650 catch basins are regularly cleaned to prevent sediment and debris from entering waterbodies. Best practices are followed for winter road maintenance procedures and long-term maintenance of stormwater treatment infrastructure. Standard operating procedures for maintenance are followed at town-owned facilities, including the following locations:
DPW has also recently developed a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) for the facility at 5 Millbury Street. This document will be used to guide improvements to stormwater management on site and drive continued future maintenance: DPW SWPPP - Final (PDF)
In addition to the six minimum control measures, Auburn is required to implement controls for additional pollutants including phosphorus, nitrogen, bacteria, and chlorides. This includes tracking the nutrient removal capability of existing best management practices: BMP Calculations (PDF)
The Town submits a report to EPA and MassDEP on an annual basis. The report summarizes actions completed in the past year for each of the six minimum control measures.
Think Blue Massachusetts is a statewide educational campaign to help residents and businesses do their part to reduce polluted runoff and keep our state’s lakes, rivers, and streams clean and healthy.
MassDEP helps people learn about federal, state, and local stormwater permits. This page offers information about these programs.
Provides an overview of stormwater topics and ways you can help.
Rain Gardens are attractive, functional landscaped areas designed to capture and filter stormwater before it runs off into storm drains. Installing a rain garden on your property is something most homeowners can do by themselves.
Rain barrels are another great way for homeowners to positively contribute to clean water. Rain barrels are available at a discount through the Auburn Board of Health: Rain Barrels - Auburn BOH
The majority of Auburn is part of the Blackstone River watershed, which starts in the Worcester area and continues all the way to Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island. Ensuring clean stormwater is one step towards a healthier Blackstone River, so that it may support a sustainable ecosystem and used for recreational activities such as fishing and boating.
The Town has been participating in a Blackstone River Watershed Collaborative that seeks to unite communities within the watershed and accomplish shared goals. A recent Report on Watershed Needs is available on the Collaborative's website.
The Massachusetts River Alliance has an "Explore Your Rivers" tool that provides information and recreational opportunities within the Blackstone River, available at the link above.
NOAA is a federal agency that gathers and provides access to a wealth of information related to the natural world. The link above provides information on the water cycle and can be used to navigate to local data, including recorded precipitation, snow, and river flow amounts.