In the News

Greening the Gateway Cities and Springfield Water & Sewer Department Team Up to Bring Residents of Old Hill, Upper Hill and McKnight Neighborhoods Free Rain Barrels

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Springfield Water and Sewer Commission Executive Director Josh Schimmel, Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management Patrick Sullivan, and Secretary of Energy of Environmental Affairs Matthew Beaton are excited to announce the partnership between Greening the Gateway Cities Springfield (GGCP) and the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission (Commission). The Commission is excited to offer free rain barrels to residents of Old Hill, Upper Hill, and McKnight neighborhoods that choose to plant two or more trees on their property this Spring through the City of Springfield’s Greening the Gateway Cities Program. The stored water in the rain barrels can be used to water the newly planted trees. 

There is a limited number of rain barrels available so interested residents should register for free trees at or call 3-1-1 for the spring 2019 planting as soon as possible.

The City of Springfield was recently awarded $1.5 million to plant over 2,400 new trees in the yards of residents living in the Old Hill, McKnight and parts of Upper Hill neighborhoods. These free trees are made possible by the MA Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs through funding from the Department of Energy Resources. Oversight is provided by the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s Urban & Community Forestry Program in cooperation with the City’s Department of Parks Buildings and Recreation - Forestry Division.

GGCP aims to increase tree canopy cover in neighborhoods with older housing stock and larger renter populations. The program plants trees 6 feet tall with a goal of covering 5% of the target neighborhoods in new tree canopy cover. The program will plant the trees for free and the resident will incur no costs. You can learn more about the program at

The Commission owns and maintains a predominantly combined sewer system in these older neighborhoods of Springfield. Rain from storm events can overwhelm the system, causing combined sewer overflows (or CSOs) into the Connecticut River. 

Rain barrels serve to catch rain flowing off of structures – water that might otherwise flow into the combined sewer pipes – and store water that can then be used in irrigating trees or garden beds. Trees also absorb and reduce the velocity of storm water entering the combined system. More information on how trees can help reduce CSOs can be found at

Mayor Domenic J. Sarno said, “Springfield is proud to announce the continuing partnership we have with the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, Executive Director, Joshua Schimmel, and their Board of Commissioners. The Springfield Water and Sewer Commission will generously provide a free rain barrel to residents who plant two or more free trees on their property through the Greening the Gateway Cities Program. We will continue to work hand-in-hand to reduce runoff water into our beautiful Connecticut River, Mill River, and Watershop Ponds. With the support from the Baker-Polito Administration, Greening the Gateway Cities and Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, the quality of life for our residents is raised.”

“Protecting the health of our waterways is a big part of our mission, so the Commission is pleased to partner with the Greening the Gateway Cities program because the increase of trees and rain barrels in neighborhoods with combined sewers is one way to help reduce CSOs,” said Commission Executive Director Josh Schimmel. “The Commission is also happy to contribute to a program that will lead to neighborhood beautification and climate resiliency through the increase of tree cover in Springfield.”

Executive Director of PBRM, Patrick Sullivan said, “This is another great opportunity for the residents of McKnight, Old Hill, and Upper Hill. Not only can you get free trees on your property by calling 3-1-1 but you can also get a rain barrel to water your new trees. This deal isn’t going to last long so I urge you to get in contact with the GGCP team and schedule a site visit before spring comes around. A GGCP forester will work with you to secure your rain barrel at the time of the site visit.”

“The City of Springfield has been a tremendous partner in the Baker-Polito Administration’s effort to invest in the Greening the Gateway Cities Program, while reducing energy consumption and lowering greenhouse gas emissions,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “As a result of a partnership between the City and the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission to offer free rain barrels, residents of three Springfield neighborhoods will benefit from lower energy consumption, cleaner air, and reduced storm water runoff.”

Greening the Gateway Cities Springfield is a program operated by the City of Springfield’s Department of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management.

GGCP Springfield • 200 Trafton Road • Springfield, MA • 01105

Page last updated:  Tuesday, March 1, 2022 01:32 pm