Links and Publications
Interested in building your own rain garden?Information on rain gardens is available here. Interested in learning about proper disposal of household hazardous materials to protect water quality? Click here for a household hazardous materials fact sheet.
Many excellent Green Infrastructure projects are happening here in Franklin County and around the nation. So just what is Green Infrastructure? Green Infrastructure (GI) techniques are cost-effective, resilient approaches to stormwater management that protect, restore, and/or mimic the natural water cycle. While conventional stormwater infrastructure (pipes & storm drains) is designed to move stormwater away from the built environment, GI uses soils and native plants and trees to treat stormwater at its source. The use of GI techniques can help reduce flooding and improve water quality, provide habitat and enhance the appearance of neighborhoods and businesses. Examples of GI include rain gardens, green roofs, street trees, permeable pavement and more. Use of these GI elements at a local scale can complement the conserved and working lands (our natural or watershed-scale green infrastructure) across Franklin County that provide flood protection, habitat and clean air and water. Learn more at EPA’s Green Infrastructure webpage.
Projects in Franklin County and the Region
Orange Riverfront Park: Riverfront Park in Orange reclaims a former Brownfield to provide ecologically-sensitive access to Millers River. Franklin County’s first Green Infrastructure pilot project, Riverfront Park began as a Brownfield site next to the Millers River in downtown Orange. Funding from the MA Division of Conservation Services’ PARC grant program and MassDEP’s s.319 grant program was used in 2005 to turn the cleaned-up site into a park and public boat ramp. An important element of the park’s design was the incorporation of Green Infrastructure techniques to treat stormwater and reduce pollutants in the Millers River. The design includes native plantings in the rain gardens and bioretention swales, permeable pavers, soil amendments and rain barrels. Orange Riverfront Park is a launch site for the Millers River Blue Trail. Paddlers can launch their own kayaks from the park’s boat launch or can rent a kayak on site. View a brochure on the Park and LID techniques here.
Olive Street and Chapman and Davis Parking Lot, Greenfield: In 2014, the 2-acre Chapman and Davis Street Parking Lot was reconstructed and includes new trees and bioretention areas to treat stormwater runoff that previously flowed directly into the buried Maple Brook culvert, which drains to the Green River. A second project added a bioretention area in the tree belt on Olive Street as part of a larger traffic calming and pedestrian improvement project. The projects were paid in part by a MassDEP s.319 grant and a Massachusetts Environmental Trust (MET) grant.
Greenfield High School: A significant renovation to Greenfield’s High School, completed in 2016, includes the use of Green Infrastructure. Students entering the school walk through a broad courtyard, flanked by two large bio-retention swales, planted with trees, grasses and perennials. The swales are designed to capture stormwater runoff from the school’s rooftop. Trees play a significant role in other areas of the property, where they are planted to slow stormwater runoff and to shade parking lots and lower the temperatures on the asphalt. In addition to serving important ecological functions on the property, the green infrastructure is highly visible to students, who can learn about how the techniques function. See more photos here.
Western Millers River Watershed LID Project: The Western Millers River Watershed Low Impact Development (LID) Project has provided resources to assist towns in the Western Millers River Watershed in protecting their local waters from stormwater runoff and flooding. A series of three workshops and a field trip showcasing LID installations in Franklin County were presented by the FRCOG and the Millers River Watershed Council (MRWC) in 2015 under an EPA-funded Section 319 grant administered by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP). FRCOG and MRWC staff also prepared the these white papers for use by local officials. Presentations from the workshops and the Franklin County LID Field Trip Briefing Book are available here.
John W. Olver Transit Center: The Transit Center is not only the first zero-net-energy transit center in the nation, it also boasts some Green Infrastructure elements! Permeable asphalt paving was used in the short-term parking stalls and a large curb-less island treats stormwater runoff from the bus access road. This island also includes native plants, such as wild ginger and Mayapple, attracting pollinators and other wildlife. Learn more about the Transit Center.
Unity Park, Turners Falls: In 2012 and 2013, the playground, ballfields, and parking lots at Unity Park were refurbished using Community Development Block Grant funds. A rain garden was added at each parking lot. The reason for adding LID elements was three-fold, according to Jon Dobosz, Montague Director of Parks and Recreation: including sustainable elements was a goal of the project; the project’s location next to the Connecticut River required mitigation by the Rivers Protection Act; and the third was aesthetics – “Who wouldn’t like a flowering garden in a park?”
Onondaga County’s Save the Rain Program: Save the Rain is a comprehensive stormwater management plan in Onondaga County, New York designed to reduce pollution to Onondaga Lake and its tributaries. During wet weather events, stormwater flows into the local sewer system, causing heavy flow periods that can overload the system. The many initiatives related to Save the Rain reduce stormwater flow into the sewer system. Current Save the Rain initiatives include the Vacant Lot Program, which converts unused lots into public spaces which can include rain gardens, urban forests and native shrubs and flower gardens. These lots serve the additional function of capturing and infiltrating stormwater before it reaches storm drains. Other initiatives include tree planting, rain barrels for residents and larger scale projects such as the detention area pictured to the left, which has an 890,400 square foot drainage area. Learn more.