Southborough receives $22,875 climate change resiliency grant

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By Stuart Foster, Contributing Writer

Construction cones stand off Cordaville Road. Southborough recently won a grant to fund a survey of surfaces in town, like roadways, that can contribute to runoff pollution by inhibiting water absorption directly into the ground. (Photo/Laura Hayes)

SOUTHBOROUGH – The state’s Municipality Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program has
given a $22,875 grant to Southborough as part of $21 million in funding allocated throughout Massachusetts for climate change resiliency projects this year.

The grant for Southborough will fund the town’s Planimetric Impervious Surface Mapping
Project, allowing the town to identify surfaces that prevent water from seeping into the ground. When water can’t be absorbed like this, it can run off surfaces and potentially gather pollutants.

Southborough Conservation Agent and MVP Coordinator Melissa Danza said this work is
particularly important in the areas around the Sudbury Reservoir and around the town’s
wetlands resource areas. There, impervious surfaces could cause untreated discharge into the larger bodies of water.

“We are hoping to limit our impacts to the reservoir and to the hotspot flooding areas,” Danza said.

Danza said the goal of the project is to have a third party create a Geographic Information System (GIS) layer that would allow them to extract data and determine how many impervious surfaces exist per lot in town.

Danza also said that the Southborough Conservation Commission has recently begun sending monthly letters to new homeowners. As a result of this project, Danza said those letters would be able to include more information gained from the GIS layer.

“It will better let the homeowners and property owners of Southborough understand what our goals and actions are and what the downsides are to increased impervious surfaces,” Danza said.

Danza said the most common impervious surfaces in Southborough are roofs and asphalt
parking spaces. As a result, the project will mainly count driveways, roadways, parking lots, homes and structures.

The project’s kickoff meeting, Danza said in an interview with the Community Advocate, was scheduled to be held during the week of Sept. 13 with the state’s Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. She added that the Conservation Commission’s goal was to have a contractor hired for the project by the end of September.

The MVP program was created in 2017 as an executive order by Governor Charlie Baker. Danza said this is the first MVP action grant that Southborough has applied for.

“The MVP program is incredibly important for municipalities, because it is kind of the one
leading aspect that gives the incentive for municipalities and towns and cities throughout
Massachusetts to look at the impacts of climate change, and more importantly have a funding source to update some of that infrastructure,” Danza said.

Danza also said that the program emphasizes equity by making sure that towns receiving
funding use it to address environmental justice populations.