Stormwater Upgrades: Wendell Park, Milton

Tree Filter Boxes To Help Reduce Water Pollution in Milton

In July 2018, the Town of Milton installed special street trees along Wendell Park in Milton, in order to combat harmful runoff pollution. Called “tree filter boxes,” these special trees collect rainwater from nearby streets and filter it through specially engineered soils before discharging cleaned water to a brook or pond.

The tree box filters out pet waste, sand, oil, fertilizer, and other pollutants that get rinsed off the street by rainstorms before they get to our waterways. You may have seen similar structures at the corner of Lincoln St. and Brook Rd. This project is part of a larger effort by the Town to clean up runoff pollution before it reaches Pine Tree Brook, Unquity Brook, the Neponset River, or other water bodies. This spring, Milton and NepRWA applied for two more grants to build more stormwater retrofits at the Milton Police Station and at the cul-de-sac of Lafayette St.

Tree filter box diagram

When asked about the Wendell Brook Project, Milton’s Environmental Coordinator Hillary Waite said, “The Town is very proud of the work we’ve been doing to reduce pollution to Pine Tree Brook. The Wendell Park project was a great choice for DPW, since we have previous experience with tree filter boxes. We’re very pleased to put Pine Tree Brook on a path towards full attainment of Massachusetts water quality standards.”

The EPA has identified stormwater runoff as the fastest-growing source of water pollution in the country and the largest remaining threat to the health of our waters. Just like most towns in Massachusetts, Milton faces a problem with stormwater pollution. This occurs when runoff from parking lots, roads, driveways, and sidewalks carries pollution into our waterways. Stormwater pollution can make water bodies unsightly and unsafe for swimming, boating, fishing, and other recreational activities. Projects like the one being completed on Wendell Park are a great way to reverse this trend.

The town has partnered with the Neponset River Watershed Association, and has received funds from the Mass Department of Environmental Protection and the US Environmental Protection Agency to complete the Wendell Park project.

Ultimately, all residents and businesses have a role to play in preventing stormwater pollution. There are many simple things we can do to keep our rivers and ponds clean. For ideas of things to do around your home or business to eliminate stormwater pollution visit

To learn more about how tree filter boxes work, check out this video by Filterra:

Chris Hirsch, Environmental Scientist

The project has been financed with federal funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (the Department) under an s. 319 competitive grant. The contents do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of EPA or of the Department.

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