Hotline addresses stormwater questions, concerns

CE officials clean up stormwater

Andy Gould, left, an environmental chemist, and Nicholas Deveau, an environmental engineer, members of the 66th Civil Engineering Division, demonstrate the clean up process near a storm drain at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., last month. The CE customer service line recently expanded to allow base residents and employees to gain information about and report issues concerning stormwater seen on base. (U.S. Air Force photo by Mark Herlihy)

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. – The 66th Civil Engineering Division customer service line recently expanded to allow base residents and employees to gain information about and report issues concerning stormwater here.

A customer service representative will answer calls during normal business hours at 781-225-2990. Calls made after hours will transfer to the Hanscom Fire Department.

CE officials will then coordinate with the appropriate organization to resolve. Those callers seeking information will receive the contact information for the person or organization most qualified to assist.

Stormwater is defined as water that originates during precipitation events and snow or ice melt. Stormwater can soak into the soil, be held on the surface and evaporate, or runoff and end up in nearby streams, rivers or other water bodies.

Precipitation falls on vehicles, parking lots, roads, construction sites and yards that can pose an environmental hazard if not properly maintained. This precipitation picks up pollutants that could lead to impaired waterways, such as the Shawsheen River that traverses Hanscom AFB.

Due to the level of pollutants identified, specifically bacteria from pet and wildlife waste, the Shawsheen River is an impaired waterway.

CE officials are making a concerted effort to improve the water quality and restore the river to its natural conditions. The inclusion of a stormwater reporting option for base personnel will help with that effort.

A National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit issued by the Environmental Protection Agency regulates stormwater at Hanscom. The goal of stormwater permits is to limit pollution by establishing best management practices and promoting outreach and education.

The best management practices vary depending on the classification of the site: industrial, construction or municipal.
They focus on general housekeeping and spill prevention. Construction sites have additional specific requirements that govern the control of erosion and sediment wash out.

There are several ways that pollutants enter the stormwater system.

Sediment, usually sand or dirt is the easiest pollutant to notice and often seen from runoff or washouts from landscape or construction sites. This is capable of affecting the storm sewer system or small streams beyond the stormwater system outfall.

Other pollutants that can enter the stormwater system are chemical contaminants. These can result by over application of pesticides and herbicides, as well as runoff from waste materials and equipment illegally dumped or abandoned.

Finally, oil and petroleum can spill or leak from vehicles and stationary equipment and contaminate the runoff. This often shows up as an iridescent sheen on the water or pavement. Base personnel are encouraged to report this immediately before it enters a storm drain.

Base personnel who see stormwater runoff are encouraged to call 781-225-2990.

In addition, if personnel find any waste materials or equipment exposed to the weather or on the ground, or see any suspicious discharges entering a storm drain or discharging to an outfall, they should report it immediately to CE.

For further information on stormwater, call 781-225-2990.