Stormwater runoff and the pollution it carries is a very large threat to our rivers, lakes and Long Island Sound. ECCD has been involved with installing many stormwater capture and infiltration projects to intercept polluted stormwater runoff. These systems use nature as a filter to purify the water as it soaks into the ground. All of these projects to install Best Management Practices (BMPs) were recommendations in existing watershed-based plans. Highlighted text will bring you to additional downloadable brochures or fact sheets.
Niantic River Watershed 4-Town Bio-infiltration, Infiltration and Water Collection Project
The Eastern Connecticut Conservation District has received funding from CTDEEP through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act to conduct a water quality improvement project in the Niantic River watershed. ECCD will partner with the four watershed towns of East Lyme, Waterford, Montville and Salem to install a suite of water quality improvement practices to manage runoff from one or more urban sub-watersheds of the Niantic River. Practices will include rain gardens, rain barrels, stormwater tree filters and SmartSponge catch basin filter inserts. These stormwater management practices will reduce pollutant loading and erosion in Latimer Brook, Oil Mill Brook, Stony Brook and other tributaries to the Niantic River.
MT Hope River Implementation Project – Perry Hill Estates
The Eastern Connecticut Conservation District has received funding from CTDEEP through Section 319 of the Clean Water Act to conduct a project in the Upper Natchaug River Watershed. The project, MT Hope River Implementation Project – Perry Hill Estates, involves constructing dumpster pads and installing storm drain filters at Perry Hill Estates in Ashford, CT. Additionally, ECCD will install pet waste stations along the MT Hope River Trail and conduct educational workshops. The project elements are implementation recommendations from the Mount Hope River Implementation-based Watershed Planning and Developed Land BMP Matrix (2014).
We encourage you to take the Can You Flush This Quiz.
For additional information contact Dan.Mullins@comcast.net or Jean.Pillo@comcast.net.
Long Island Sound Futures Fund: 100 Rain Gardens and 100 Rain Barrels In One Year
The Eastern CT Conservation District (ECCD) conducted a pilot project to hold workshops and install 100 rain gardens & 100 rain barrels throughout Eastern CT. The pilot program was funded by the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation Long Island Sound Futures Fund and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. To implement the project, ECCD partnered with the Boy Scouts of America, various service organizations at UConn, the Coca-Cola Bottling Company, River Network, the Thames River Basin Partnership, the Niantic River Watershed Committee and The Last Green Valley.
Rain gardens and rain barrels are low-cost solutions to reducing non-point source pollution from entering our rivers, streams, lakes, ponds and Long Island Sound. Rain gardens are slight depressions in the ground in which a variety of plants are installed. Stormwater runoff from impervious surfaces such as rooftops, driveways and sidewalks is redirected into the rain garden where it infiltrates into the soil and is filtered of contaminants. Rain barrels collect rainwater from rooftops which can then be used to water gardens and flowers around the yard, conserving water while reducing the amount of runoff entering waterways.
This was an exciting new program for the district. ECCD thanks the Boy Scouts from your local communities for participating in the project and improving the water quality and wildlife habitats in Eastern Connecticut. Collectively, in both the short- and long-term, the Boy Scouts made meaningful contributions to conserving our natural resources. For an organization dedicated to service and the environment, one that appreciates and utilizes our natural resources, it is difficult to imagine a more profound legacy for the Boy Scouts than to lead the charge in protecting our environment.
If you would like more information about this project, please contact Dan.Mullins@comcast.net , or call 860-319-8808, for more information. A rain garden informational brochure can be downloaded here.
Baker Cove Non-Migratory Canada Geese Outreach, Education and Control Project
In the Spring of 2017, ECCD received funding to conduct a Canada Geese Control Project at Baker’s Cove in Groton. The project is funded in part by a US EPA Clean Water Act section 319 grant through the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The primary goals of the project are to develop a team of stakeholders and assign roles and responsibilities, conduct a Canada Geese inventory including travel and use areas, develop a matrix of strategies to control Canada Geese in the Cove and select one control measure from the matrix to implement with project partners.
Latimer Brook Stormwater Infiltration Project
In August 2019, ECCD and the Town of East Lyme installed stormwater infiltration structures under a parking lot at East Lyme High School. Prior to installation, the 1-acre parking lot discharged untreated stormwater runoff to nearby Latimer Brook, the primary tributary to the Niantic River. The Niantic River, located between the towns of East Lyme and Waterford, is a significant commercial and recreational resource to both communities. Protection of its water quality will ensure the continued enjoyment of the river by local and regional visitors.
The infiltration structures will allow an estimated 900,000 gallons of stormwater per year to soak into the permeable sand and gravel deposits under the parking lot, reducing both the volume of stormwater and amount of contaminants entering Latimer Brook. In conjunction with the stormwater infiltration project, the Niantic River Watershed Committee, Inc., the East Lyme School Department and volunteers from the Millstone Environmental Lab installed a bio-retention rain garden in a lawn area adjacent to the parking lot in July 2018. This rain garden will infiltrate stormwater from a portion of nearby athletic fields and parking lot, preventing associated contaminants, including sediment, vehicle chemicals, fertilizer and pesticides, from entering the brook.
The stormwater infiltration project was funded, in part, by CT DEEP through a Clean Water Act § 319 Non-point Source Program grant. The bioretention rain garden was funded through an Environmental Stewardship Program Grant from the Dominion Foundation.
Grand Street Reconstruction and Stormwater Management, East Lyme
In late 2017, ECCD and the Town of East Lyme installed stormwater management practices, 21 tree wells, along Grand Street in downtown Niantic as Part of a Grand Street improvement project. Currently, stormwater from this busy mixed commercial/residential area is discharged directly to the Niantic River with no water quality treatment. However, large areas of impervious surface now drain into the tree wells, which treats the contaminated runoff before discharging into the Niantic River. A second phase of the project, to install additional tree wells in the neighborhood, is currently underway by project partners.
On April 27, 2018, ECCD, the Town of East Lyme and CT NEMO held a workshop for municipal DPW staff and stormwater management professionals about the incorporation of Low Impact Development (LID) practices into the Grand Street project. Judy Rondeau, project manager for ECCD, discussed the use of LID practices to meet MS4 permit requirements. Amanda Ryan, CT NEMO MS4 educator, discussed the Directly Connected Pervious Area (DCIA) and DCIA disconnection requirements of the MS4 permit. Victor Benni, East Lyme Town Engineer, took workshop participants through the process the East Lyme engineering department took to determine DCIA and disconnected DCIA in the project area. Prior to the presentations, Victor and Judy led workshop participants on a tour of the Grand Street neighborhood, where additional tree wells were being installed. The tour also visited other LID practices that have been installed by ECCD and the Town in downtown Niantic.
Workshop presentations can be viewed and downloaded here:
- Grand Street Stormwater Management Project – Incorporating Low Impact Development Best Management Practices into the CT MS4 Permit – Judy Rondeau, ECCD
- Impervious Cover and Low Impact Development in the MS4 permit – Amanda Ryan, CT NEMO
- Determining DCIA & DCIA reductions for the Grand Street area – Victor Benni, PE, Town of East Lyme Engineering Department
Mashamoquet Brook Watershed Septic Upgrade Project
In 2011, ECCD staff concluded a water quality investigation of the Mashamoquet Brook watershed, and wrote a Water Quality Improvement Plan. The Mashamoquet Brook watershed is mostly located in Pomfret, but includes parts of Brooklyn, Woodstock and Eastford. The study was conducted because quality in the swimming area at Mashamoquet Brook State Park failed to meet safe water quality standards for recreation by Connecticut Water Quality Standards. The water in the engineered swimming area comes from Mashamoquet Brook. ECCD, with assistance of volunteers from The Last Green Valley Water Quality Monitoring Program, surveyed the watershed and collected water samples to be tested for E. coli bacteria. At the conclusion of the study, the results showed that Mashamoquet Brook, beginning at Covell Road and extending all the way to the Quinebaug River, did not meet state standards. Abington Brook and White Brook also failed to meet state water quality standards.
Based on the investigation, it was concluded that it was highly likely that failing septic systems from older homes along the streams could be a contributing source of E. coli. The average life span of a well-maintained septic system is not indefinite. Many of these homes date back to the 1800s.
To address this issue, ECCD applied for and was awarded funding by the Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection through a United States Environmental Protection Agency Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Grant. The goals for this project are to educate all the homeowners in the watershed about the proper care and maintenance of their septic systems, how to identify a problem that needs to be addressed and possible funding sources to help pay for septic system upgrades. This one-time grant will provide a $5000 rebate to homeowners in priority areas along the streams if they replace their septic system before August 30, 2018. Links to the Mashamoquet, Abington and White Brook priority areas are below. If your home is in one of the priority areas, it does not mean your septic system is failing. However, if your septic system is failing and you live in one the priority areas, you are eligible for the rebate if your system is replaced.
A free workshop on septic tank care and maintenace was held on April 12, 2016. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Pomfret Conservation Commission. A free gift was provided to those who completed and returned the ECCD Septic Tank Survey.
Priority maps for the Mashamoquet Septic Tank Upgrade Project
- Abington Brook Priority Map
- Mashamoquet Brook Area 1 Priority Map
- Mashamoquet Brook Area 2 Priority Map
- White Brook Area 1 Priority Map
- White Brook Area 2 Priority Map
PowerPoint explaining the Mashamoquet Brook Septic System Upgrades project
PowerPoint Can You Flush This? Information on what is and isn’t safe to flush into your septic system.
Moosup Garden Apartments Rain Gardens Project, Plainfield
In 2016, as part of a US EPA Clean Water Act § 319 Non-Point Source grant which funded the Ekonk Brook Trackdown and Watershed Based Plan, ECCD installed rain gardens at the Moosup Garden Apartments, in the Moosup section of Plainfield. These rain gardens were installed to capture and infiltrate contaminated stormwater runoff. This runoff originated near the dumpsters scattered around the apartment complex, and then discharged directly into Ekonk Brook through the stormdrain system, degrading water quality. A rain garden was installed next to each dumpster. Stormwater runoff was diverted from each dumpster area to a nearby rain garden, interupting the flow of contaminated stormwater into the the stormdrain system, and reducing the amount of pollution entering Ekonk Brook.
Colonial Townhouse Apartments Green Infrastructure Project, Mansfield and Willimantic
In 2016, ECCD installed rain gardens and tree filters at the Colonial Townhouse Apartments, located in Mansfield and Willimantic. This project, which was recommended in the 2014 Lower Natchaug River Watershed Based Plan, was funded in part by the CT DEEP through a US EPA Clean Water Act § 319 Non-Point Source grant program. Stormwater from the apartment complex discharges to the Natchaug River at Lauter Park. The rain garden and tree filter units will treat and/or infiltrate a combined volume of approximately 548,000 gallons of stormwater per year, reducing stormwater volume and pollutant loading to the Natchaug River. This project will serve as a model for other similar stormwater BMP projects in the region, particularly in heavily developed commercial and urban areas.
Tree Filters Installed in the City of Groton to Improve Water Quality in Baker Cove
ECCD was awarded funding from CT DEEP through the Clean Water Act §319 Nonpoint Source grant program to install tree filters at the City of Groton Municipal Complex and adjacent Washington Park. In partnership with the City of Groton, seven tree filters were installed in September 2015 to treat stormwater runoff from the City Hall and Park parking areas and driveways. Stormwater from these areas currently flows into Birch Plain Creek, which is a tributary to Baker Cove. Baker Cove has been closed for a number of years to shellfishing for direct consumption due to high levels of bacteria found in the water. This stormwater management practice is the first in what ECCD and the City of Groton hope to be a series of projects that will improve the water quality of Baker Cove.
Niantic River Tree Filters in East Lyme and Waterford
ECCD was awarded funding from CT DEEP through the US EPA Clean Water Act §319 Nonpoint Source grant program to install tree filters along Pennsylvania Avenue in Niantic, and on Mago Point in Waterford. Four tree filters were installed in May 2015 in Niantic as part of the Niantic Streetscape Improvement project. Four additional tree filters were installed in summer 2016 at the State of Connecticut’s Mago Point overflow boat launch parking lot, as part of the Town of Waterford’s Mago Point Improvement project. These 8 tree filters help treat contaminated stormwater runoff that previously flowed untreated directly to the Niantic River, improving water quality for recreation and aquatic habitat.
Lauter Park Riparian Buffer Restoration
In 2015, ECCD received funding from the State’s Supplemental Environmental Projects Program through the Rivers Alliance of Connecticut to restore the riparian buffer along the shore of the Natchaug River at Lauter Park in Willimantic.
Riparian buffers, which are strips of vegetation alongside a river or stream, provide important protection to both the physical character of a stream and its water quality. The vegetation itself provides a barrier to stormwater runoff by slowing down surface flow as it works its way through the vegetation, which allows it to soak into the ground. This reduces the amount of contaminants in the stormwater from reaching the river, which in a well-used park like Lauter Park, could include vehicular chemicals, trash, sediment, fecal bacteria from animal waste and lawn fertilizers and pesticides. Plant roots also armor the stream banks, holding soil together during periods of high flow, so that the stream banks don’t erode away.
The riparian buffer at Lauter Park has been diminished from many years of activity at the park to the point that, with the exception of mature trees, the river’s edge is nearly devoid of both vegetation and top soil. Utilizing the SEP funding, ECCD partnered with the Town of Windham to restore 500 feet of riparian buffer as recommended in the Lower Natchaug River Watershed Based Plan. Approximately 25 students from Eastern Connecticut State University volunteered through the annual Town Pride/Town Wide event to plant a mix of shrubs, perennials and small trees alongside the river. Prides Corner Farm of Lebanon donated additional plants to assist with the restoration.
Colony Road Tree Filter Project, East Lyme
In 2012, ECCD, in partnership with the Town of East Lyme, installed 5 tree filter units in the Colony Road neighborhood. The tree filters treat approximately 1 million gallons of stormwater runoff each year prior to its discharge into Latimer Brook, the primary tributary to the Niantic River. The installation of the tree filters has significantly reduced the amount of common non-point source pollutants from being discharged into Latimer. This includes a 385% reduction of E. coli bacteria. These tree filters are helping to improve the water quality in the brook for recreation and aquatic habitat. This project was funded in part by a US EPA Clean Water Act § 319 Non-Point Source grant through the CT DEEP.
Demonstration rain gardens and riparian buffers installed in Woodstock, CT
In 2012, ECCD was awarded EPA Clean Water Act § 319 NPS funding through the CT DEEP to install stormwater improvement projects in Woodstock, CT. Working with the Town of Woodstock and other partners, ECCD installed two demonstration projects in the Little River watershed. A bioretention rain garden was installed behind the Woodstock Historical Society/Palmer Hall building at the Woodstock Arboretum. The second project involved planting a riparian buffer along a stream where none previously existed at the Woodstock Golf Course.
What is a…
Rain Gardens are gardens planted in a depression. When stormwater runoff is directed towards a rain garden, it is captured and soaked into the ground. There are many benefits to using rain gardens. Click here to download an informative brochure on rain gardens.
A bioretention project is like a rain garden but is usually larger in scale and may include an underdrain system to direct overflow from larger rain events. Like rain gardens, a bioretention project uses nature to treat stormwater as it infiltrates through the ground. A bioretention project is typically sized to capture and infiltrate the runoff from at least the first inch of rain. The most contaminated water from a storm is typically in the runoff from that first inch of runoff. Any additional runoff is typically less polluted.
In the battle against nonpoint source pollution, new methods are being developed and tested every year. One such method employs an ancient strategy – the ability of nature to remediate contaminants. This new twist on an old process is called a “tree filter.” Street trees in urban settings are not a new idea. What is new is the idea of setting a tree in a specially processed growth medium in an enclosed or semi-enclosed structure, and connecting it to the storm drain system. Storm runoff picks up contaminants on the ground – chemicals, heavy metals, trash, salts, fertilizers, pesticides and sediments – and transports them into the storm drain system. Traditional storm drain systems were designed to channel and remove stormwater runoff from paved surfaces as expeditiously as possible to avoid road flooding. Little or no thought was given to the contaminants that stormwater picked up along the way. Tree filters are designed to treat these contaminants. Microbes in the growth medium and the tree itself do the work of removing the contaminants through biological processes. The microbes and tree absorb nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus, removing them from the stormwater. The tree may also remove salts, metals and harmful chemicals and either absorb and alter them, store them or transpire them through the leaves. Oil- and grease-digesting bacteria in the soil can break down petroleum products transported in the stormwater. Heavy metals may adsorb onto sediment in the unit and stay put. Stormwater that has been treated through this natural water pollution treatment system can exit the tree filter up to 95% cleaner than it was before it entered!
Tree filter units are very adaptable and can be retrofitted into previously developed cityscapes. They require very little space. Most small trees are suitable for use in filter units. Tree filters can be set up in series along streets, so that as polluted storm water enters the storm drain system, it passes through a series of tree filters before being discharged into the receiving water body. Click here to download our Tree Filter brochure. Click here to see a short slide show demonstrating how a tree filter is installed.
A riparian buffer is a vegetated area along a stream or lake shoreline. These buffers help to improve water quality by slowing down, spreading out and soaking in rain water. The roots of trees and shrubs help to stabilize the shoreline and decrease erosion. The shade from the tree canopies helps to keep the water cooler. Falling leaves are an important food resource in the aquatic food chain.
These projects were funded in part by a US EPA Clean Water Act section 319 grant through the CT Department of Energy and Environmental Protection unless otherwise specified.