Business/Commercial Tips for Clean Water


Property Owner's Guide - Clean Water is Everyone's Business

Keep your site clean

Keeping pavement and other surfaces clean is an important best management practice (BMP) to keep debris, pollutants and soil from entering surface waters.

  • Sweep parking areas and walkways instead of washing with a hose.
  • Clean litter and debris from drainage inlets and catch basins to prevent flooding.
  • Plan sand and salt operations to prevent over application. Reduce salt use where feasible.
  • Store snow on flat, well-vegetated areas or upslope of infiltration systems.
  • Create a spill prevention and response plan.
  • Train employees how to prevent spills and how to respond to a spill.
  • Report bigger spills to appropriate agencies for proper clean up.
  • Keep dumpster lids closed and trash collection areas clean.
  • Perform vehicle maintenance and wash only where water flows into a sand/oil separator.
  • Store hazardous materials in covered, protected areas.

Reduce the amount of stormwater runoff created
Decreasing stormwater runoff improves water quality, replenishes groundwater supplies and reduces the risk of flooding, property damage and erosion problems. The following suggestions also provide other positive environmental benefits and may make sites more appealing to people.

  • Remove unneeded pavement and restore the area for infiltration.
  • Plant native vegetation on all disturbed bare areas.
  • Avoid overwatering landscaped areas, which washes fertilizer into storm drains.
  • Consider Green Infrastructure or Low Impact Development (LID) techniques, which include bioretention areas such as rain gardens, constructed stormwater wetlands, treebox filters, grass or vegetated channels or swales, porous pavement, green roofs, and others. In addition to the benefits noted above, LID systems are usually less expensive and require less maintenance than traditional infrastructure.
  1. The Low Impact Development Center.  The Low Impact Development Center has extensive information on planning, design, and maintenance requirements for LID techniques.  This is a great place to begin when considering LID for your project site.
  2. The Cost of Low Impact Development.  EPA has a useful webpage with cost-benefit resources for using green infrastructure or LID techniques for stormwater management.

Capture, treat and infiltrate stormwater onsite by installing a combination of the following practices
Incorporating these practices and infrastructure into your site can significantly reduce water pollution. Many of these practices also replenish groundwater and reduce flooding and erosion. Consider making changes over time or during redevelopment projects.

  • Green Infrastructure or Low Impact Development (see above)
  • Slotted channel drains
  • Sand/oil separation units
  • Subsurface infiltration systems
  • Detention basins
  • Drop inlets or grates
  • Oil absorption pillows


Food Service Facilities

  • Never hose spills into a gutter, street or storm drain.
  • Never wash oil or grease outdoors since the runoff from this wash water goes into our storm drain system and our streams.
  • Do not place grease and oils in dumpsters.
  • Train employees about proper grease, food and trash disposal.
  • Use non-toxic cleaning products when possible.

Automotive Service & Repair Shops

  • Always use drip pans to capture fluids.
  • Segregate and recycle liquid wastes and never let any liquid waste enter our storm drain system.
  • Store materials inside or under cover to prevent contamination from rainwater.
  • Properly maintain vehicles to prevent leaks that discharge hazardous materials.
  • Use non-toxic cleaning products when possible.

Landscape Contractors

  • Sweep up fertilizer or other spills immediately.
  • Cover dirt or mulch piles to avoid rain washing materials into our storm drains or streams.
  • Seed or mulch bare areas as soon as possible to prevent soil erosion.
  • Use vegetation that needs less water, fertilizers and pesticides. Avoid using fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides near sensitive areas like wetlands and streams. State regulations passed in 2015 have specific regulations on the application of plant nutrients and when, where and what quantities can be used to both be effective and minimize impacts on surface and ground water resources to protect human health and the environment. There are also specific record-keeping requirements for professional applicators.

Massachusetts Plant Nutrient Regulations for Turf & Lawns Fact Sheet

  • Do not dispose of grass clippings, leaves, branches or other yard waste or landscape materials in streams, waterbodies or wetlands.
  • Irrigate slowly and inspect the system for leaks, over-spraying and runoff. Avoid overwatering lawns and beds to prevent excess runoff.
  • Schedule grading and excavation projects for dry weather and use appropriate erosion and sedimentation controls. Permission is required for projects within 100 feet of wetlands or 200 feet of streams, or if land disturbance is 10,000 square feet or greater or involves 500 cubic yards of earth or more. Contact the Conservation Department at 781-270-1655 for more information.