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May 8, 2001

MWRA To Extend Comment Period for CSO Project in South Boston

MWRA is announcing the deadline for comments on the notice of Project Change for the South Boston Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Project has been extended until May 29. Official written comments will be accepted until this date by the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA) Unit.

MWRA originally proposed a comment period lasting from April 11 until May 11, but at the request of the community the comment period was extended until May 29.

Comments will be taken into consideration by the Secretary of the Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, Robert Durand, and will be used to provide direction to the MWRA in reassessing CSO control plans. Copies of the plans can be found at the South Boston Public Library on Broadway, or from the MWRA.

For anyone unfamiliar with the project, a "combined sewer" is an older system that is designed to transport both street drainage and sewage. These systems are designed to overflow to the nearest water body in large storms in order to avoid flooding of streets and buildings. Currently there are seven existing overflow points along the South Boston beaches and four along the reserve channel. These combined sewers are owned by the Boston Water and Sewer Commission.

Last year the MWRA halted design work on all projects in South Boston after local elected officials pledged to block efforts to obtain legislation necessary to build a new pumping/treatment facility on MWRA’s preferred site near the Reserved Channel.

The officials were echoing the concerns of some residents in the area who did not like the location MWRA had chosen for the new pumping/treatment facility.

Because MWRA could not obtain the proposed facility site, the agency has proposed a ten-month reassessment of CSO control alternatives. The reassessment will update baseline information on flows, infrastructure and water quality, and will also identify and evaluate CSO control alternatives. These alternatives are expected to have different water quality benefits, community impacts, siting needs and costs. The goal is to develop a consensus on the right approach to CSO control in South Boston so that efforts to improve water quality along both the South Boston beaches and the Reserve Channel can move forward.

For further information call Jeffrey McLaughlin in MWRA Public Affairs at 617-788-1192.