stormwater MANAGEMENT

Polluted Runoff Harms the Bay

When it rains, polluted water from parking lots, streets, highways, lawns and farms is dumped into the Bay. Animal waste, oil, grease, gasoline, fertilizer, garbage and sand cloud the waters of the Bay and rivers.

Stormwater also carries sewage pollution from cesspools and combined sewer systems, causing the closure of swimming beaches and shellfish beds. It also overloads the Bay with nutrients - nitrogen and phosphorus - that cause oxygen levels to drop. In extreme conditions, this can cause fish and shellfish die-offs. 

When not properly managed, stormwater can cause major flooding events that disrupt people's lives and businesses.  

Reducing stormwater pollution is complicated. The greatest challenges are raising awareness of homeowners, business owners, and municipal and state governments who all have roles to play. Cities and towns own stormwater collection systems with storm drains and pipes that require maintenance, repair, and upgrades. Commercial areas, such as malls and big box stores, can re-engineer and landscape their parking lots to capture stormwater and allow it to do what it does naturally: seep into the ground. Rain gardens can be developed by schools, stores, and homeowners to accomplish the same goal.   

Save The Bay is advocating action on stormwater runoff by: 

  • Urging cities and towns to ramp up stormwater management programs through projects and financing
  • Providing technical support for municipalities on stormwater control projects. 
  • Working with students and community groups on rain garden projects that absorb polluted runoff
  • Promoting state financial support for cities and towns, including low cost financing, grants, and technical assistance
  • Urging the Rhode Island General Assembly to pass legislation to phase-out cesspools statewide
  • Educating students at all levels about the causes of stormwater pollution and steps that individuals can take to reduce it.