MWRA Final CSO Report Meeting

Talking Points

THURSDAY FEB 17th at 10 AM
CLICK HERE FOR MWRA’s online meeting!
Access Code: 2331 962 5386
Password: February17

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) is holding a briefing at 10 am on Thursday February 17 for their Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project’s Final Report. 

This meeting is a final milestone in the completion of the several decades’ long project to clean up Boston Harbor.

As part of that miraculous effort, half of the CSOs in the Alewife Brook were closed. But six Alewife CSOs remain. In 2021, those CSOs discharged 50 MILLION GALLONS OF SEWAGE WATER into the Alewife Brook. That’s the same volume as they discharged in 1997, before any work was done. This is a serious health problem in the Alewife area because it is naturally flood-prone. Known as The Great Swamp, the Alewife has been flooding for centuries. And sewage-contaminated flood water enters resident’s homes, yards, and parks.

The MWRA has been ignoring the health impacts that the CSOs have on Alewife residents when it floods.

  • There are an estimated 5000 residents living in the Alewife’s 100-year flood plain.
  • Hazardous sewage-contaminated flood water enters the homes, yards, and parks of area residents during major storms.
  • Untreated sewage contains pathogens including Hepatitis, Salmonella, COVID-19, cholera, dysentery,  bad headaches, bloody diarrhea, abdominal cramps, fever, nausea, vomiting, and dehydration.
  • The community living in the 100-year flood plain is the area’s most vulnerable and diverse population. This population is also the most susceptible to bad health outcomes from exposure to pathogens in the untreated sewage flood water. This is an Environmental Justice issue.
  • Because the Alewife is naturally flood prone, the residents who live near the Alewife CSOs are disproportionately impacted by these particular CSOs in the MWRA’s system. Therefore, we must have a plan to end all Alewife sewage pollution.

The MWRA believes that the CSO sewage pollution is OK because the street water runoff / stormwater in the brook is not clean.

  • We are obviously way more concerned about the much worse health impacts of exposure to untreated sewage than we are to street water / stormwater runoff. But, let’s end the sewage pollution and tackle stormwater water quality at the same time, through a new CSO plan that includes green and grey infrastructure!
  • Arlington has been investing and continues to invest in improving its stormwater through the work of its Environmental-Award-Winning engineer, Wayne Chouinard, and its MS4 program. Other municipalities along Alewife Brook are doing so as well.

In six weeks, the MWRA, Somerville, and Cambridge will have to submit new CSO Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) plans. The MWRA’s old CSO plan ignored Climate Change effects.

  • The first CSO plan eliminated half of the Alewife CSOs. The new plan should eliminate the other half, fully eliminating Alewife sewage pollution.
  • Cambridge got a beautiful constructed wetlands park on state land which cleans their stormwater and reduces flooding. Somerville and Arlington should have the same thing. We want to see stormwater improvements through green and grey infrastructure in a new Long Term Control Plan!
  • The original CSO plan is over twenty years old and ignored Climate Change. A new plan must take into consideration the changes in precipitation due to Global Warming.
  • The MWRA’s Alewife CSO (MWR003) discharged 20 million gallons of sewage water in 2021. It needs to be eliminated by installing a pumping station.  Cambridge and Somerville CSOs need full sewer separation and green and grey infrastructure to clean the storm water and reduce flooding.
  • Climate Change will lead to an increase in CSO activations and even more sewage pollution. There will be a snowball effect, where it gets worse faster and faster. Therefore, all Alewife CSOs must be eliminated.

THURSDAY FEB 17th at 10 AM
CLICK HERE FOR MWRA’s online meeting!
Access Code: 2331 962 5386
Password: February17

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