Informational Alert | Coronavirus Updates
NOTICE: DPW offices at 147 Hampshire St. are open to the public, by appointment only, Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Appointments can be made by phone at 617-349-4800 or by email at theworks@cambridgema.gov. Individual staff are also available for appointments outside of these hours as needed; please contact the office with the details of your issue, and we will coordinate with the appropriate staff member. Many DPW services can be provided online, and DPW phones are staffed 24/7 to respond to urgent concerns.

Residents

What Can Residents Do To Protect Waterways?

Residents play a role in keeping our rivers clean. What you do on your property or in the street can impact what flows into the rivers. 

While enjoying being outdoors with your pet do your “Doody” for clean water... Scoop the Poop!

You hate stepping in it. And fish hate swimming in it. Always pick up after your pet to prevent harmful bacteria from ending up in our water.  When it rains, dog poop and other pollutants are carried over our sidewalks, driveways, and roads into the nearest storm drain where they flow - untreated - directly into our nearest water body. Dog waste carries high levels of harmful E. coli bacteria and other pathogens that increase public health risks and can cause infections.  Let’s all do our part to protect our water! Learn more about the problems caused by dog waste and take the Canines for Clean Water Pledge.

More Clean Water Tips:

  • Clean up after your dog. Pet waste left on sidewalks and streets flows into catch basins and out to the river. 
  • Use a rain barrel to capture rain for re-use instead of just letting it run off your property
  • Test your soil and read fertilizer labels carefully before applying to ensure you're using the right amount. Excess fertilizer will just wash away in the next rain storm. Look for slow-release, phosphorus-free fertilizers that are safer for the environment. 
  • Bag your yard clippings or compost them, just don't dump them in a storm drain or leave them on the sidewalk! Excess organic material rots in waterways, leading to pollution
  • Use de-icing agents smartly and sparingly- avoid salt whenever possible and apply only what is recommended on the package. For heavy snowfalls, shovel early and often to avoid snow compacting and forming ice. Do you ever wonder where all that salt 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 in our water?

SALT in our fresh water is not good for trees, 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 trees and 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.

What can YOU do to keep your pavement safe while also keeping our waterways clean?

  • Shovel early and often. Remove as much snow and ice as you can, and only use de-icer on what you can’t take care of with a shovel.
  • Follow product instructions and only use as much de-icer as you need. More is not better.
  • Remove slush when de-icer has done it's job.
  • For heavy snowfalls, shovel early and often to avoid the snow compacting and forming ice.
  • For wet snow or sleet and freezing rain, apply de-icer product early on to prevent snow from bonding or ice from building up.
  • Report Illegal Dumping: because catch basins are the entry points of the stormwater drainage system, residents are encouraged to report if they see anything illegal being dumped into them via the Commonwealth Connect App or by contacting the Department of Public Works at 617-349-4800 / theworks@cambridgema.gov. Items that should be reported include motor oil, antifreeze, soapy wash waters, pet waste, yard clippings and paint.
  • Be a Leaf Hero! Keep fallen leaves out of the streets. Do not blow or rake leaves into the street. These leach nutrients into the stormwater runoff, contributing to stormwater pollution. Instead, mulch or bag yard waste collection. 
  • Get Rid of It Right! Drop off household hazardous waste at one of the city's household hazardous waste collection events.  Don't pollute the environment by trashing or dumping hazardous waste down the drain!

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