The Joint Committee on Ways and Means and the House Committee on Federal Stimulus and Census Oversight is holding a virtual hearing on the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Funding focusing on the areas of Economic Development: Transportation/Arts & Tourism/Climate/Infrastructure on Thursday, September 9, 2021 at 11:30 AM.
One of the issues of focus is Combined Sewer Overflows, which have discharged more than twice as much sewage and runoff into public waterways than was expelled throughout all of 2020.
ACEC/MA is working with the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) and the City of Lawrence Water Department to provide testimony before the committee.
From January through August of this year, combined sewer overflows in the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority service zone discharged more than twice as much sewage and runoff into public waterways than was expelled throughout all of 2020.
In the parts of Massachusetts that have combined sewer systems, in which surface runoff is put through the same pipes that carry sewage, heavy and persistent rains can overwhelm the systems. To prevent sewage backups into homes and streets, relief points called combined sewer overflows (CSOs) are built into the wastewater systems to discharge some of the sewage and rainwater into the nearest body of water.
Through last month, there had been 80 discharges totaling 594 million gallons at CSOs that the MWRA meters, according to the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. In all of 2020, there were 58 discharges at those same MWRA-metered CSOs that emptied a total of 259 million gallons. Last year, all but one million gallons of the sewage and runoff discharged by the MWRA was treated before it was dumped into a waterway, EEA said.
The summer of 2020 "was one of the hottest and driest on record in parts of the Northeast," according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This year has been a different story -- Boston just "wrapped up the third wettest meteorological summer ever recorded" and the region had already received more precipitation (40.17 inches) by Sept. 2 as it got during all of 2020 (37.54 inches), according to WBZ-TV's meteorology team.
The amount of rain is a major factor in CSO discharges, but officials said 2021 has also seen more of the kind of large storms that exacerbate the need for CSO discharges. After last week's heavy rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida, the Department of Environmental Protection worked with wastewater system operators to assess CSO discharges into water bodies across the Bay State. In addition to the MWRA service area, CSO discharges are a major concern along the Merrimack River. - Colin A. Young/SHNS | 9/8/21 12:20 PM
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