Storm Water Management

Rain Barrels

The City has coordinated a joint purchase of rain barrels for residents each spring for the past several years. These barrels are re-furbished barrels used for olive imports, and are available at a 40% discount for city residents. 

Rain barrels are for sale again in 2021. The barrels cost $69 at the reduced rate. The deadline to order is April 21, 2021 and pick-up will be April 28, 2021 between 5-7 pm at Medford High School. To order, click here and select Massachusetts and Medford. 

For more information, or to order through a different community, visit the website for The Great American Rain Barrel Company.

The City of Medford has a stormwater management plan and much of the routine work of DPW contributes to keeping our rivers clean, as well as keeping our streets clean for residents. More information about the City’s role in storm water management can be found on the City’s official website. 

Every time you turn on the faucet, you have a local waterway to thank for the clean water that comes flowing out. And every time your kids or pets play in a river or lake, they’re enjoying rainwater that landed on a home, business, street, or sidewalk somewhere upstream from your location.
When our ancestors first built their mills in this area, those waterways were surrounded by vast forests and the waterways were sparkling clean. But today, our waterways are surrounded by buildings, roads, parking lots, and farm fields. And our waterways just aren’t as clean as they could be. But if everybody does their part and takes some simple steps to make a difference, our rivers could be clean and sparkling again!

What is the city of Medford doing to reduce stormwater pollution?

One of the most effective ways to reduce storm water runoff. Street sweeping removes the majority of pollutants, such as litter, animal waste and debris. Click here for more information on Medford’s street sweeping efforts. 

Medford has developed snow ordinances to ensure that snow is removed safely and in an environmentally friendly way!

Good materials to use include:

Ice melter with calcium chloride (CaCl2) is better for the environment and only a small amount is required to melt ice. 

Potassium Chloride (KCl) is OK, but it can damage concrete.

Biodegradable cat litter is another good option that has a small environmental impact.

Materials to avoid include:

Avoid rock salt! (NaCl or sodium chloride) which kills plants and trees as well as aquatic plants and animals!

Avoid sand! It doesn’t help pedestrians and washes into storm drains and into our waterways! It is very expensive to clean the storm drains in the spring!

Starting August 2014, Medford began a city wide project to label all of the storm drains with medallions that say “No Dumping, Drains to River.” Storm drain labeling has been found to be on the most effective ways to increase awareness about storm water runoff. Here is an article about storm drain labeling in Medford.

DAS storm drain marker labeling group

For more information on the Storm Drain Labeling program visit us here. If your community group is interested in taking part in the labeling project contact Medford’s Director of Energy & Environment Alicia Hunt at (781) 393-2137 or

Keep our rivers, lakes, ponds, and streams clean -- Use de-icer smartly and sparingly!

When the snow melts, do you ever wonder where all that salt and de-icer goes? You guessed it! It flows over our driveways, sidewalks, and roads, into the nearest catch basin, and directly (untreated!) into our waterways.

What’s wrong with salt and de-icer in our water?

SALT in our fresh water is not good for plants, wildlife, or people. Birds can mistake salt crystals for food, eating them and getting sick. Salt can be toxic to fish and others in aquatic systems. Salt is not good for our plants, and in many wetlands salt-tolerant invasives are crowding out our native vegetation, which then affects the wildlife that lose their food sources. And of course salt in our water supplies is not good for us — we all know that salt is linked to high blood pressure and heart disease. Salt includes sodium chloride, as well as calcium and magnesium chloride.

Some use SAND, and while it doesn’t carry chemicals into our waterways, it does clog catch basins and cause flooding. It can also carry other pollutants into our waterways. If used, excess sand should be swept up.

DE-ICER is a preferable alternative to both salt and sand, but it is still not perfect, and should be used smartly and sparingly. De-icers include Sodium or Potassium Acetate and Calcium Magnesium Acetate.

What is going on with all the construction?

Were you annoyed by the construction at Winthrop Circle? Were you stuck in traffic because of the rebuilding of the Cradock Bridge in Medford Square?

These projects are actually helping you!

On Winthrop Street, the city installed additional, larger storm water pipes  to manage an increase in storm water flow. The pipes reduce the amount of flooding in the city because more water can flow into the pipes. Here’s an article with more details about the Winthrop Street construction.

The Cradock Bridge project was done by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation (MassDOT). Obstructions from the old lock system under the bridge were removed to increase the amount of water that could flow through the Mystic River which will help reduce flooding in Medford and Winchester.

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