Construction & Development

In Massachusetts, polluted stormwater runoff and discharges in urbanized areas result in serious water-quality problems. Polluted runoffs to water bodies have affected plant and animal life in streams and lakes and can also affect recreational activities such as boating and swimming.

Construction activities can have a significant impact on water quality. As stormwater flows over a construction site, it can carry pollutants such as sediment, debris, and chemicals into the drains causing damage to wildlife and water quality. Construction equipment can track dirt and debris onto roads, which may then be washed into the drain.

Most construction sites require a permit at either the local, state or federal level.

Erosion & Sediment Control (ESC) & Stormwater Management Plans

The town may require ESC and/or stormwater management plans as part of this process of obtaining a building permit. For detailed information consult the town by-laws, Section 8.26.2 Erosion And Sediment Control. Note that construction activities such as changes to existing grade, removal of existing vegetation and storage of excavate can trigger the need for an approved ESC Plan. And for further reading about stormwater management consult the town by-laws, Section 8.26.3, detailing construction activities that trigger the need for an approved stormwater management plan. Please contact the Building Department or Department of Public Works / Engineering for additional information.

Soil erosion is typically caused by water falling on disturbed ground, which is poorly covered or unvegetated areas. Water can pick up soil particles in these areas and carry them towards water bodies or storm drains.

Site Plan Approval Process

Suggested Erosion & Sediment Control Best Management Practices

  • Drop Inlet Protection
  • Silt Fence
  • Hay Bales
  • Gravel Construction Entrances
  • Containment Areas for Concrete Equipment Washouts
  • Perimeter Erosion and Sediment Control Practices
  • Protected Material Stockpiles
  • Maintain Control Practices Construction Sign Picture

Construction sites with 1 acre or greater land disturbance require National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits. Read the NPDES Stormwater Permits for Construction Activities for more information.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts provides A Guide for Planners, Engineers, and Municipal Officials that provides erosion and sediment control guidelines for urban and suburban areas.



The Town of Brookline regulates stormwater discharges under By-Law 8.26. Non-stormwater discharges contain contaminants and supply additional flows to the town's storm drain system. Non-storm drain discharges are a major cause of impairment of water quality and water flow (in lakes, ponds, streams, rivers, wetlands and groundwater), contamination of drinking water supplies, alteration or destruction of aquatic and wildlife habitat, and flooding.

These can be prevented through the use of this requirement by preventing pollutants from entering the storm drain, by prohibiting or removing illicit connections and unauthorized discharges to the storm drain, and to comply with state and federal statutes and regulations relating to stormwater discharges.