Stormwater Management

Stormwater ManagementStormwater is the water generated from impervious surfaces when it rains. Unless it is dealt with in some other way, stormwater generated near surface waters drives silt, organic matter, bacteria, nutrients, metals, and petroleum products into fresh and coastal waters. The bacteria carried to our coastal ponds contribute to shellfish bed closures that impact our way of life. Stormwater is a visible, often easily corrected source of water pollution.

This source of water quality degradation can be eliminated or at least reduced by having rain and runoff infiltrate directly into the ground, instead of letting it flow into coastal ponds and other surfacewaters. In the ground, it is filtered, treated, and then replenishes groundwater resources.

The use of nonstructural, natural approaches is preferred. Low Impact Development (LID) is an innovative stormwater management approach that avoids costly conventional techniques to pipe, treat, and dispose of stormwater. Instead, it replicates the pre-development hydrology of the site by using design techniques modeled after nature, to infiltrate, filter, store, evaporate, and detain runoff close to its source. Techniques include porous pavers, pervious asphalt, bioretention swales, grassed infiltration areas and rain gardens. LID guidelines should be incorporated into permitting and project approvals at town and MVC levels to minimize the generation of stormwater.

The following criteria are recommended to prioritize which stormwater systems to remediate.
  • Discharges to surface waters that contain shellfish resources, especially discharges close to the shellfish waters (remove bacteria using vegetative treatment where possible and infiltration to the ground otherwise).
  • Discharges where nitrogen impairment exists (direct as much stormwater as possible to natural vegetated buffers or artificial vegetated bioretention swales to reduce nutrients, bacteria and other pollutants; infiltrate as much of the remainder as possible).

Where no treatment is possible, the schedule of catch basin clean-outs should be evaluated to determine if a more frequent clean-out is required.


  • Native plants in Buffer Strips Native plants for use in buffer strips or residential low-maintenance landscapes. See also the Polly Hill Plant Selection Guide below.
  • Water Table Data- 2008 Update: Summarizes the data collected from 1992 through 2008 from an Island-wide network of 15 monitoring wells.

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Office location:

Office location:

The Stone Building
33 New York Avenue
Oak Bluffs, MA 02557

Telephone: 508-693-3453
Fax: 508-693-7894

Mailing Address

Mailing address:

Martha's Vineyard Commission
P.O. Box 1447
Oak Bluffs, MA 02557

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