End MWRA’s Unfair Treatment of Alewife Brook!

It is said that the solution to pollution is dilution. The Alewife Brook is a tiny waterbody in comparison to the Boston Harbor, and the Charles & Mystic Rivers (which, by the way, MWRA also pollutes with nasty sewage!). Still at least most of the Harbor and River sewage discharge is treated. 100% of the sewage dumped in the Alewife Brook by MWRA, Cambridge, and Somerville is untreated. Compared to the rest of their system, MWRA unfairly allows too much untreated sewage pollution to be dumped into the little Alewife Brook.

Thirty-eight years after the legislature created the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) to end dumping of sewage and sludge into Boston Harbor, and twenty-five years after the Deer Island Treatment Plan started treating the region’s sewage to end Boston Harbor pollution: DUMPING OF UNTREATED SEWAGE CONTINUES!

The Alewife Brook Combined Sewer Outfalls dump untreated human and industrial wastes into our waterbodies in storms without any treatment whatsoever. Alewife Brook is a small channel in a densely populated area, with approximately 5000 people living in the Alewife 100-year flood plain.

The current permitted limit for sewage pollution in the Alewife Brook is 7.29 Million Gallons per year. In 2021, 51 Million Gallons of untreated sewage pollution were dumped in the Alewife Brook. The discharges also exceeded the limit in 2015, 2018 and 2019. The sewage pollution problem has been getting worse, not better.

Say No to Sewage Pollution!

Save the Alewife Brook is a growing grassroots environmental group with supporters in Cambridge, Arlington, Somerville, Belmont, and Medford. We are working to address flooding and water quality problems in the Alewife Brook.

We are especially concerned with the Combined Sewer Outfalls, which discharge sewage water into the Alewife Brook during many storm events. During major flood events, sewage contaminated water from the Alewife Brook flows into the homes, yards, and parks of the area’s most diverse and vulnerable neighborhoods, which are considered Environmental Justice Populations. To make matters worse, the Alewife can reverse direction during some flood events, sending that contaminated floodwater back to North Cambridge and Belmont, towards their most diverse and vulnerable neighborhoods.

A review of FEMA flood maps reveals there are an estimated 1200 East Arlington residents, 3500 Cantabrigians, and 300 Belmont residents living in the Little River – Alewife 100-year flood plain. Climate Change threatens to exacerbate the problem, with wetter rain seasons, more frequent and more severe storms, and sea level rise.

Climate Change makes the sewage discharge problem exponentially worse.

The hope for the communities around the Alewife is improvement of brook water quality and adaptation to the effects of climate change through regional resiliency strategies.

Illustration of Combined Sewer System with Combined Sewer Outfall (CSO) that discharges untreated sewage in the Alewife Brook.

Environmental Health is Community Health

March at the HONK! Parade

SUNDAY OCTOBER 8, from 11 am to 1:30 pmMarch with us in the HONK! Paradeat 11 am gather at the Day Street Parking Lot in Davis Square, Somervilleending in Harvard Square, Cambridge, at around 1:30 pm Parade with Save the Alewife Brook, musicians, and puppeteers. Join us, to demand a safe, clean, and restored brook, for all…

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State Passes $100K for Alewife Brook!

Governor Maura Healey’s first budget includes $100,000 for the Alewife Brook. Funding will go through Mystic River Watershed Association for a hydraulic and dredging study. Construction of the Alewife channel with a crane dredge, circa 1909. From the Department of Conservation and Recreation, courtesy Massachusetts State Archives. Why do we need a study of the…

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Send A Public Comment to EPA!

Please sign the following email petition: Michele Barden EPA Region 1 5 Post Office Square, Suite 100 (06-1) Boston, MA 02109 RE: NPDES MA0103284, Part I. B. 2. b.(8) You can’t dump untreated sewage into Alewife Brook without telling us. There are too many of us living too close to it. The Alewife Greenway/Bike path…

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