Public Education and Outreach

A quality education program is always the "first line of attack" when working to improve stormwater quality.

Background Image of a hand in a stream with a tadpole with the text stormwater management including the department of public work shield

An informed and knowledgeable community is vital to the success of any stormwater management program. We are working diligently to create a program to educate the public, as well as in house staff on the impact of stormwater and measures that can be implemented to improve the quality and reduce the quantity of discharge. Through the distribution of educational materials to the community and our employees, it will bring a greater understanding of Plainville's MS4 permit requirements and support will begin to grow. Education leads to greater compliance. As an individual begins to understand his or her responsibility, they begin to make modifications in their behavior. The cumulative effect that these changes in behavior have on stormwater quality is the ultimate goal of outreach and education.

​An effective outreach program should encompass people of all ages, race, background, income and education levels. Permittees are encouraged to utilize partnerships with other governmental entities and seek assistance from non-governmental organizations to fulfill this minimum control measure. The program will strive to make materials and activities relevant to our community by incorporating a variety of strategies ensuring maximum coverage. Through our outreach we will address the viewpoints and concerns of a variety of audiences, including minority and disadvantaged communities, multiple languages, people with disabilities and target audiences such as commercial, industrial and institutional entities. And most importantly, it should support behavior modifications that all individuals are capable of making in their daily lives to help reduce negative impacts on water quality.

MS4 General Permit

2.3.2 Public Education and Outreach 

Objective: The permittee shall implement an education program that includes educational goals based on stormwater issues of significance within the MS4 area. The ultimate objective of a public education program is to increase knowledge and change behavior of the public so that pollutants in stormwater are reduced.

  • The permittee shall continue to implement the public education program required by the MS4- 2003 permit by distributing educational material to the MS4 community. The educational program shall define educational goals, express specific messages, define the targeted audience for each message, and identify responsible parties for program implementation. If appropriate for the target audience, materials may be developed in a language other than English. At a minimum, the program shall provide information concerning the impact of stormwater discharges on water bodies within the community, especially those waters that are impaired or identified as priority waters. The program shall identify steps and/or activities that the public can take to reduce the pollutants in stormwater runoff and their impacts to the environment.
  • The educational program shall include education and outreach efforts for the following four audiences: (1) residents, (2) businesses, institutions (churches, hospitals), and commercial facilities, (3) developers (construction), and (4) industrial facilities, unless one of these audiences is not present in the MS4 community. In such a situation, the MS4 must document in both the NOI and SWMP which audience is absent from the community and no educational messages are required to that audience.
  • The permittee shall distribute a minimum of two (2) educational messages over the permit term to each audience identified in part 2.3.2.b. The distribution of materials to each audience shall be spaced at least a year apart. Educational messages may be printed materials such as brochures or newsletters; electronic materials such as websites; mass media such as newspaper articles or public service announcement (radio or cable); targeted workshops on stormwater management, or displays in a public area such as town/city hall. The permittee may use existing materials if they are appropriate for the message the permittee chooses to deliver or the permittee may develop its own educational materials. The permittee may partner with other MS4s, community groups or watershed associations to implement the education program to meet this permit requirement.

Some EPA educational materials are available at: http://cfpub.epa.gov/npstbx/index.html.

  • The permittee shall, at a minimum, consider the topics listed in part 2.3.2.d.i. – iv when developing the outreach/education program. The topics are not exclusive and the permittee shall focus on those topics most relevant to the community.
    • Residential program: effects of outdoor activities such as lawn care (use of pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers and information on Massachusetts Regulation 331 CMR 31 pertaining to proper use of phosphorus containing fertilizers on turf grasses) on water quality; benefits of appropriate on-site infiltration of stormwater; effects of automotive work and car washing on water quality; proper disposal of swimming pool water; proper management of pet waste; maintenance of septic systems. If the small MS4 area has areas serviced by septic systems, the permittee shall consider information pertaining to maintenance of septic systems as part of its education program.
    • Business/Commercial/Institution program: proper lawn maintenance (use of pesticides, herbicides and fertilizer, and information on Massachusetts Regulation 331 CMR 31 pertaining to proper use of phosphorus containing fertilizers on turf grasses); benefits of appropriate on-site infiltration of stormwater; building maintenance (use of detergents); use of salt or other de-icing and anti-icing materials (minimize their use); proper storage of salt or other de-icing/anti-icing materials (cover/prevent runoff to storm system and contamination to ground water); proper storage of materials (emphasize pollution prevention); proper management of waste materials and dumpsters (cover and pollution prevention); proper management of parking lot surfaces (sweeping); proper car care activities (washing of vehicles and maintenance); and proper disposal of swimming pool water by entities such as motels, hotels, and health and country clubs (discharges must be dechlorinated and otherwise free from pollutants).
    • Developers and Construction: proper sediment and erosion control management practices; information about Low Impact Development (LID) principles and technologies; and information about EPA’s construction general permit (CGP). This education can also be a part of the Construction Site Stormwater Runoff Control measure detailed in part 2.3.5.
    • Industrial program: equipment inspection and maintenance; proper storage of industrial materials (emphasize pollution prevention); proper management and disposal of wastes; proper management of dumpsters; minimization of use of salt or other de-icing/antiicing materials; proper storage of salt or other de-icing/anti-icing materials (cover/prevent runoff to storm system and ground water contamination); benefits of appropriate on-site infiltration of stormwater runoff from areas with low exposure to industrial materials such as roofs or employee parking; proper maintenance of parking lot surfaces (sweeping); and requirements for coverage under EPA’s Multi-Sector General Permit.
  • The program shall show evidence of focused messages for specific audiences as well as evidence that progress toward the defined educational goals of the program has been achieved. The permittee shall identify methods that it will use to evaluate the effectiveness of the educational messages and the overall education program. Any methods used to evaluate the effectiveness of the program shall be tied to the defined goals of the program and the overall objective of changes in behavior and knowledge.
  • The permittee shall modify any ineffective messages or distribution techniques for an audience prior to the next scheduled message delivery.
  • The permittee shall document in each annual report the messages for each audience; the method of distribution; the measures/methods used to assess the effectiveness of the messages, and the method/measures used to assess the overall effectiveness of the education program.

2.3.3. Public Involvement and Participation

Objective: The permittee shall provide opportunities to engage the public to participate in the review and implementation of the permittee’s SWMP.

  • All public involvement activities shall comply with state public notice requirements (MGL Chapter 30A, Sections 18 – 25 – effective 7/10/2010). The SWMP and all annual reports shall be available to the public. 
  • The permittee shall annually provide the public an opportunity to participate in the review and implementation of the SWMP.
  • The permittee shall report on the activities undertaken to provide public participation opportunities including compliance with part 2.3.3.a. Public participation opportunities pursuant to part 2.3.3.b may include, but are not limited to, websites; hotlines; clean-up teams; monitoring teams; or an advisory committee.

What best management practices are underway?

The Town of Plainville is currently developing a comprehensive stormwater education/outreach program that will assist us in our overall goal in reducing stormwater pollution.