P. 35 “PURIFICATION OF MYSTIC RIVER AND ALEWIFE BROOK. Under the provisions of chapter 445 of the Acts of the year 1904, the State Board of Health was directed to prepare and report to the next General Court a method and plans for purifying Mystic River, Alewife Brook and the adjacent water courses, ponds and drainage areas, with due regard to the purposes indicated in chapter 327 of the Acts of the year 1903, entitled “An Act to authorize the cities of Cambridge and Somerville and the towns of Arlington and Belmont to improve the condition of Alewife Brook, Little River and Wellington Brook ," and to the plans of the Metropolitan Park Commission for park developments within the said region, and after conference with the commission ap pointed under the above-mentioned act. An appropriation for carrying on this investigation was made under chapter 129 of the Acts of 1905 ; and on April 28, 1906, the following report was submitted to the Legislature : Acting under the provisions of section 2 of chapter 445 of the Acts of the year 1904, and chapter 129 of the Acts of the year 1905, the te Board of Health has examined the Mystic River and Alewife Brook and their drainage areas, and presents herewith a report of its investigations, together with its recommendations for purifying these waters, and preventing further injury to the public health by reason of unsanitary conditions existing in the valleys of these streams.” P.39 “The main stream of Alewife Brook is badly polluted by the discharge of foul wastes from a tannery, which enter the stream through Tannery Brook, in the neighborhood of Massachusetts Avenue below the main portion of the marshes on that stream. The quantities of liquid wastes from this tannery vary greatly from time to time, but have been found to amount at times to nearly 100,000 gallons per day, while the quantity of putrescible organic matter contained in these wastes amounts to from five to ten times the quan tity of such matter found in ordinary sewage. A glue factory near the upper end of the Alewife Brook water- shed dis charges foul wastes into marshes bordering the stream, badly polluting sev eral pools in the neighborhood of Concord Avenue. The stream also receives considerable pollution from manure piles and other sources. The chief pollution of Alewife Brook is that which is caused by the over flow of sewage from the combined systems of sewers in the city of Cam bridge, at times of rain or when snow is melting rapidly. The water- shed of Alewife Brook is very thoroughly provided with sewers, which are con nected with the Alewife Brook branch of the metropolitan sewerage system. Most of these sewers are constructed upon the separate plan , with the inten tion of excluding rain water ; but in three districts, in Cambridge, the sewers are built upon the combined plan, and take rain water as well as sewage. These sewers were in existence at the time the metropolitan sewer was con structed, and, as in the case of other similar sewers, the metropolitan system was not designed to take all of their flow ; but provision was made for receiving into the Alewife Brook branch all of the sewage flowing in these sewers in dry weather and a portion of the mingled sewage and storm water at times of rain, allowing the remainder above the capacity of the metro politan sewer at such times to overflow into Alewife Brook. Calculations show that the quantity of sewage discharged into Alewife Brook in this way is large enough to cause gross pollution of the stream in dry weather ; and observations during the past year show that the stream is grossly polluted at such times, and very offensive to those living in its neighborhood, especially in the region above Massachusetts Avenue, where the water available for the dilution of the sewage is only that which flows nat urally from the Alewife Brook water- shed. The effect of the pollution diminishes below Massachusetts Avenue, chiefly on account of the dilution by tide water which runs up the stream to this neighborhood. Whatever provision may ultimately be made for the drainage and im provement of the marshes along Alewife Brook and elsewhere in the Mystic River water-shed , there is no doubt, in the opinion of the Board, that the best plan of preventing the further pollution of Alewife Brook by sewage from the combined sewers, which now discharge into that stream, is to sep arate the sewage from the storm water in these combined areas ; since the rain water and ground drainage, if unpolluted by sewage, could be dis charged into local waters without objection , and all of the sewage proper could then be removed from the district in the metropolitan sewers at all times. It is evident, from an examination of the sewers tributary to the Alewife Brook branch of the north metropolitan sewerage system and the records of the quantity of sewage flowing at different times, that some of them are already overcharged at times of wet weather, owing to the entrance of excessive quantities of water at such times, particularly in the spring. This is especially true of the branches from Belmont and Arlington, and, while some relief has been provided by rebuilding some of the sewers in the former town, further relief will soon be necessary. In the case of the Ar lington sewer also an enlargement is likely to be required when sewers are built in the town of Lexington, which has recently been admitted to the district, and the sewage from which must find its way into the metropolitan system through the Arlington sewer, unless a new sewer shall be constructed. Under the conditions prevailing in this valley, it is likely that the pollution of the streams by sewage from other sewers than the combined systems in Cambridge will result, unless some relief shall be provided. Whether this can best be done by enlarging the metropolitan sewers, or preventing the entrance of unnecessary quantities of water from the tributary systems, is a matter for further and immediate investigation.” P. 708 “that the sewer in North Cambridge which enters Tannery Brook, the sewage from which flows along and enters Alewife Brook, is a menace to the health of the neighborhood , and should be remedied without delay”
Amazing Board of Health document declares, “that the sewer in North Cambridge which enters Tannery Brook, the sewage from which flows along and enters Alewife Brook, is a menace to the health of the neighborhood, and should be remedied without delay”
and recommends combined sewer separation
“there is no doubt, in the opinion of the Board, that the best plan of preventing the further pollution of Alewife Brook by sewage from the combined sewers, which now discharge into that stream, is to separate the sewage from the storm water in these combined areas”
115 years later, this work still has not been done! We’ve been kicking the can down the road so long that the costs have escalated. If we don’t fix it now, what will the cost be in the future? And why are the Environmental Justice communities continually expected to absorb those costs?