Sustainable Stormwater Management Designs for the Mill River

Northampton Department of Public Works

Northampton Department of Public Works

2013-2014: This team worked in collaboration with the Northampton Department of Public Works and Office of Planning and Sustainability and the Smith College Center for the Environment, Ecological Design, and Sustainability.

The project sought to improve water quality and wildlife habitat along a five-mile stretch of the Mill River in Northampton, MA by developing applications of stormwater management based on green infrastructure. When runoff is left untreated, it flows to rivers, potentially damaging the riparian ecosystem. Green infrastructure refers to the creation of systems that rather use natural processes to reduce the flow of stormwater and clean up what reaches streams. The team surveyed the river to identify disturbed and eroded banks, failing or problematic stormwater outfalls, and other point and non-point-source discharges along the river. They identified priority locations for improvements and designed stormwater outfall upgrades with emphasis on green infrastructure.

At each location they developed and delivered alternative designs, including up-pipe (before entering the city stormwater sewage system) and down-pipe (after exiting the city stormwater sewage system) solutions. The alternatives ranged in feasibility from idealistic to more cost-effective. The team also developed communication materials to share their findings and designs with the city and with the public through presentations, community gatherings, and other means.