BOSTON -- The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) announced recently it submitted its 1998 Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Plan and Annual Progress Report to the federal court overseeing the Boston Harbor Project.
CSOs are pipes which discharge a combination of storm water and raw sewage into Boston Harbor, as well as the Charles, Mystic, Neponset, and Alewife Rivers when rain water inundates the sewer system. CSOs are located in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, and Chelsea.
The report indicates that annual pollution from CSOs has been reduced from 3.3 billion gallons in 1987 to 1 billion gallons today: It also indicates that 15 CSOs out of 82 have been permanently closed. By 2008, when the program has been fully implemented, CSO pollution will be less than 400 million gallons annually, nearly a 90 percent reduction from 1987 levels.
"We and our member communities are beginning to see some early positive results although there is a long way to go," said MWRA Executive Director Douglas B. MacDonald.
MWRA has begun construction of an upgrade to the Cottage Farm CSO, located on the Charles River in Cambridge, and has received regulatory approval for activities to upgrade several other CSO facilities it owns.
As part of a federal court order, MWRA expects to spend more than $500 million over the next decade to attack CSO pollution. The environment of local rivers, beaches, and Boston Harbor will be greatly enhanced as we proceed with greatly reducing pollution caused by CSOs," said MacDonald, who noted that MWRA first accepted responsibility for ameliorating CSO pollution in 1987 because the problem is a regional one and the size and cost would be too large for any individual community to undertake. "Some doubted Boston Harbor would ever be as clean as we see it today," he said. "The planned CSO improvements build on the progress made to date, and the whole region will benefit."
MWRA is funding design and construction of CSO projects undertaken by communities.
In Boston, the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) has under way a number of sewer separation projects. The Neponset River Sewer Separation Project is under construction in Dorchester. Construction and design of the Constitution Beach Sewer Separation Project continues. The Stony Brook Sewer Separation Project in Jamaica Plain and Mission Hill is in preliminary ~design planning and construction plans for the South Dorchester Bay Sewer Separation are in progress.
"The sewer separation projects being implemented will greatly improve the aesthetic and water quality of Boston's rivers and harbor. In addition, BWSC has incorporated the separation projects into its annual capital improvement program, thereby minimizing construction impacts to the neighborhoods," said Vincent G. Mannering, Executive Director of BWSC.
Cambridge has completed design and awarded construction contracts for sewer separation of a tributary to Alewife Brook. Six CSOs discharging into the Mystic River and Alewife Brook have been closed by the City of Somerville.
Wastewater system projects that are currently in design and scheduled to be in construction over the next two years include replacement of large interceptor sewers in Chelsea, localized sewer relief in Cambridge and Charlestown, and the elimination of sewage discharges to Dorchester beaches. MWRA is also planning construction of a tunnel and pumping station project to eliminate sewage discharges to South Boston beaches.
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