Stormwater Management Program

What is Stormwater and Why Does it Matter?

Stormwater is water from rain or melting snow that doesn't soak into the ground but instead flows over roofs, pavement, bare soil and slope lawns into storm drains or directly into water bodies.  As stormwater flows, it picks up soil, animal waste, salt, pesticides, fertilizers , oil and grease, liter and other potential pollutants.  Underground pipes carry stormwater to the nearest waterway, usually with little or no treatment.  So, whatever flows down a storm drain comes out in a nearby water body, such as the Charles River, Crystal Lake, Hammond and Bullough's Ponds or one of our many brooks (streams).

                                                                           Picture credit: City of Richmond, VA

 Clean water is necessary for drinking, swimming, fishing, boating, and for protecting wildlife. It is far less costly to prevent pollution to water bodies than it is to clean them up after the fact. Keeping stormwater clean not only benefits our neighborhood and community, but the entire network of water bodies and land that make up our watershed. 

Our Watershed   

Stormwater runoff in Newton flows through the City’s storm drains to the Charles River or into one of our many streams and ponds that flow into the Charles River. Can you name the brooks (streams) that flow through Newton? They are shown on this map. The land and water bodies of Newton combined with those in surrounding communities, make up the Charles River Watershed.  A watershed is the area of land that drains into a river, lake or other waterbody.


The Charles River is 80 miles long and flows directly through 23 towns and cities in eastern Massachusetts, beginning at Echo Lake in Hopkinton and ending in the Boston Harbor. There are 20 species of fish found in the Charles River, including two species of River Herring - Alewife and Blueback Herring - that are anadromous, or migratory, and swim upriver from the sea to spawn (lay eggs) each spring. Learn more at the Charles Watershed Association.



 Click here for more information on Think Blue Massachusetts.

Click here for the Crystal Lake Management Plan (January, 2020).

Click here for the Crystal Lake Working Group Presentation (Feb. 11, 2020). 

Click here for the City of Newton’s Stormwater Management Program Plan.

 Our Storm Drainage System

Newton’s drainage system consists of 320 miles of pipe, 12,750 storm drains (also known as catch basins), 384 outfalls, 14 miles of stream, 2 pump stations, 14 ponds and one lake, Crystal Lake. The Department of Public Works manages our drainage system, also known as a Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) because we have separate systems to handle the City’s wastewater and stormwater collection. Click here for our MS4 Drainage system map.

Locate Your Catch Basin

Find out how to locate your nearest catch basin and learn where your stormwater goes.


Under Massachusetts law, only apply fertilizer with phosphorus if:

1. A soil test shows that phosphorus is needed; or

2. During the first growing season for a newly established lawn.

Contact the UMass Cooperative Extension Soil Nutrient Testing Laboratory to learn how to conduct a soil test.


Stormwater Fees

It’s a big job to maintain all this infrastructure and comply with the MS4 Federal permit requirements. We accomplish this through our stormwater fee program where property owners pay a fee commensurate to their impact on our system. For simplicity, all residential homeowners pay a flat fee of $75 per year; all other property owners pay based on the amount of impervious area on their property.  The stormwater rates can be found here. The ordinance that established our current stormwater rates can be found here.  Stormwater fees are included on your quarterly water / sewer bill.

If you undertake measures to capture, collect and recharge stormwater on your property, you may be eligible for a credit on your stormwater bill. To find out if you qualify, read the guidelines and submit your application. If you have any questions, please call 617-796-1640.

Newton’s Stormwater Management Program

The City is authorized to discharge stormwater through the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) General Permit for Small MS4’s in Massachusetts. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the NPDES program with support from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental (MaDEP). To comply with the permit, the City must follow six Minimum Control Measures (MCM). 

  • MCM 1. Public Education & Outreach: Provide educational material about stormwater to four audiences (residents, industry, commercial, and construction). The purpose of the educational material is to provide each audience with information about stormwater and how their actions may impact it.
  • MCM 2. Public Participation: Provide an opportunity for the public to participate in the City’s Stormwater Management Program (SWMP). Contact if you would like to be notified when this will be available for review.
  • MCM 3. Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination: Find and eliminate sources of non-stormwater discharges (e.g. sewage) from the stormwater collection system. Part of this requirement includes development of a system wide stormwater drainage map.
  • MCM 4. Management of Construction Site Runoff: Adopt an ordinance and procedures for site plan review as well as erosion and sediment control on construction sites that disturb one or more acres of land.
  • MCM 5. Management of Post-Construction Site Runoff: Address stormwater runoff from new development and redevelopment projects that disturb one or more acres of land. The goal of this measure is to try to management stormwater where it falls and retain it on site. This control measure encourages the use of low impact design techniques and requires the retention or treatment of runoff on site using green infrastructure practices.
  • MCM 6. Good Housekeeping in Municipal Operations: Implement good housekeeping practices in municipal operations such as vehicle maintenance, open space, buildings and infrastructure. The permit requires street sweeping twice per year, optimization of catch basin cleaning, and pollution prevention at the DPW garages.

Learn more about Newton’s program:

Please help keep our waterways clean, by following these tips:

  • Never throw, pour or sweep anything into a storm drain / catch basin.
  • Help prevent flooding, by clearing leaves or snow from catch basins.
  • Put trash & recycling in its place. Please do not litter!
  • Pick up after your pet and dispose of the waste in the TRASH can.
  • Use fertilizers and other lawn chemicals sparingly
  • Maintain your vehicles to avoid leaks.
  • recycle used motor oil where you purchased it.

We are not alone in this effort, communities across the state are working to promote cleaner waterways and encouraging people to do their part. Watch the Think Blue Massachusetts video (click on green text) and read a recent Boston Globe article here.

More Information about Newton’s Stormwater Program

The City completed a comprehensive review of our drainage infrastructure needs. After a year of study, our consultant developed a Stormwater Infrastructure Improvement Plan (SIIP). Links to a presentation, the executive summary and final report below.

Public Education

Community Events

  • Save the Date: Annual Charles River Clean-up, Saturday April 27, 2019
Stormwater Infrastructure Improvement Plan - Supporting Documentation
File Name: Stormwater Infrastructure Improvement Plan - Supporting Documentation.pdf
Revision Date: 2/18/2015
Stormwater Infrastructure Improvement Plan Executive Summary
File Name: Stormwater Infrastructure Improvement Plan Executive Summary.pdf
Revision Date: 2/18/2015
back to top