Water Pollution & Stormwater

Stormwater is the leading cause of water pollution.
Rainwater and snow and ice melt are also known as stormwater as they flow across the ground, pavement or other surfaces. Stormwater runs off streets, driveways, parking lots, lawns, farms, and construction and industrial sites, and picks up fertilizers, dirt, pesticides, oil, grease, debris and many other pollutants on the way to our streams, rivers, lakes, and coastal waters. Stormwater that flows into the storm drain system also discharges directly to these waterbodies. Pollutants in stormwater can contaminate drinking water supplies and groundwater, and can negatively impact aquatic organisms and other wildlife and habitat. Decreasing the use of pollutants, minimizing pollutant exposure to stormwater, and capturing and/or treating stormwater runoff can significantly decrease water pollution problems.

Stormwater can cause localized flooding and erosion.
In undeveloped landscapes, precipitation soaks into the ground or flows overland more slowly than in developed areas. Impervious surfaces such as streets, driveways, parking lots, and buildings increase the rate and volume of stormwater flowing directly into storm drains and waterbodies. Slowing the rate and decreasing the volume of stormwater runoff significantly reduces the risk of flooding and erosion, and associated property damage. For example, directing stormwater to areas where it can soak or percolate slowly into the ground is one way to mitigate stormwater flows, as well as replenishing groundwater supplies and improving water quality.

There are many ways that you can help to reduce water pollution, flooding and erosion.
Through better stormwater management, we can all do our part to reduce water pollution and improve water flows. Follow the links below to find out what you can do to help keep our waters clean and reduce flooding and erosion risks.  




General Best Management Practices for Stormwater Pollution Prevention

The Town of Burlington is working on managing stormwater and maintaining water quality.
Click here for information on our efforts and the Town's Stormwater Management Program.

Burlington's Watersheds

Where does Burlington’s stormwater go? Most of Burlington, including Vine Brook and the Vine Brook well fields, is within the Shawsheen River Watershed. Additionally, the Ipswich River Watershed, which includes the Mill Pond reservoir, and the Mystic River Watershed are fed by Burlington's many streams. To see the boundaries of these watersheds in Burlington, see the map linked below.


Please visit the following websites for additional information.

Shawsheen River Watershed Association

Ipswich River Watershed Association

Mystic River Watershed Association