Water Pollution & Stormwater

Do Your Part for Cleaner Water and a Healthier Environment

Every time you turn on the faucet, you have a local waterway to thank for the clean water that comes flowing out. And every time your kids or pets play in a river or lake, they're enjoying rainwater that landed on a home, business, street, or sidewalk somewhere upstream from your location. 
When our ancestors first built their mills in this area, those waterways were surrounded by vast forests and the waterways were sparkling clean. But today, our waterways are surrounded by buildings, roads, parking lots, and farm fields. And our waterways just aren't as clean as they could be. But if everybody does their part and takes some simple steps to make a difference, our rivers could be clean and sparkling again! 

Clean Water Tip #1: Scoop Your Dog's Poop

Clean Water Tip #1: Scoop Your Dog's Poop
You hate stepping in it. And fish hate swimming in it, too! Regularly scoop your dog's poop from public areas AND your back yard, before it washes into our waterways.

Pet waste left on grass or sidewalks doesn't stay there. Every time it rains, the waste breaks down and washes into our rivers. You can put the waste in those handy pet waste stations that are popping up everywhere, though any outside trash can is just fine. 

Clean Water Tip #2: Catch Your Rain

Clean Water Tip #2: Catch Your Rain
Capture the rain that falls on your property in a rain barrel, rain garden, or on the leaves of your trees and shrubs. You’ll reduce flooding and keep our waterways clean.
When rainwater runs across dirty areas (like streets, sidewalks, and construction sites), it carries that pollution into our waterways. When you keep that water onsite, you can use it yourself or let it soak into the ground or evaporate, instead of picking up trash and pollution on its way to the nearest waterway.  

Clean Water Tip #3: Test Your Soil and Read Your Fertilizer Labels

Clean Water Tip #3: Test Your Soil and Read Your Fertilizer Labels
Test your soil and read the label before you apply fertilizer. If you use too much fertilizer, the excess will just wash away in the next rain, polluting your local waterways. 
If you need to use fertilizer, slow release and phosphorous-free fertilizer are safer for the environment. And if your yard doesn't need fertilizer, there's plenty that you can do each spring. You can spread fresh grass seed, aerate your soil, and plant some of those native shrubs you've been eyeing. 

Clean Water Tip #4: Bag or Compost Your Grass

Clean Water Tip #4: Bag or Compost Your Grass
In the spring, bag your grass clippings for curbside pickup. Even better, compost them to make a natural fertilizer for your garden. But whatever you do, don't dump them in a storm drain or leave them on the sidewalk!
When grass clippings decay in your composter, that's healthy fertilizer. But when they rot in our streams, that's water pollution! 

Clean Water Tip #5: Bag or Compost Your Leaves

Clean Water Tip #5: Bag or Compost Your Leaves
After enjoying the fall foliage, bag your leaves for curbside pickup, or mulch them. But whatever you do, don't dump them in a storm drain or leave them on the sidewalk!
Mulched leaves make great fertilizer. But when they rot in our streams, that's water pollution!

Want More Tips?

Stormwater runoff can increase flooding, impact the quality of our drinking water, affect public health and harm wildlife, but there are many simple steps you can take to protect our streams, rivers and lakes!  Follow the links below to see the complete lists of tips.






What is the Town Doing?

The Town of Burlington is working on managing stormwater and maintaining water quality.  Stormwater is driected through a series of pipes and culverts through the town and is ultimately discharged to waterbodies. Here is a map of the stormwater drainage system in Burlington

Follow this link for information on our efforts and the Town's Stormwater Management Program.

How Do I Report an Issue?

Pollutants in storm drains and drainage pipes mean polluted water in our streams, rivers and water bodies.  The Town of Burlington regulates all non-stormwater discharges to the storm drainage system under the Illicit Discharges and Detection Bylaw, for example:

NOT Allowed
* Paints & varnishes
* Oil & car fluids
* Yard waste
* Trash
* Pesticides, herbicides & fertilizers
* Animal waste
* Rocks, sand, salt, soil
* Construction waste
* Concrete washout
* Sewage
* Wash water (from washing machines, sinks, tubs)
* Toxic or hazardous materials

For questions or to report illicit connections, discharges or dumping, call the Board of Health at 781-270-1955 or DPW at 781-270-1670


Use the online form here 


Where Does Burlington's Water 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.

Taking any of the steps on this webpage can have a significant positive impact in Burlington and in downstream areas as well.


Please visit the following websites for additional information:

Shawsheen River Watershed Association

Ipswich River Watershed Association

Mystic River Watershed Association