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Environmental Justice

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority


As a public agency tasked with providing water and wastewater services, Environmental Justice is a foundational value that drives MWRA’s efforts to inclusively and equitably promote public and environmental health across the communities we serve. This is reflected by our commitment to ensuring access to safe drinking water, revitalizing Boston Harbor, and working to alleviate combined sewer overflows. MWRA continually strives to ensure environmental justice principals are incorporated into all projects, operations, policies and practices. We are also passionate about developing and retaining a high-performance workforce that reflects our service area and underscores our core principles of diversity, equity and inclusion.” ” – Fred Laskey, MWRA Executive Director

What is Environmental Justice?

Environmental Justice (EJ) is based on the principle that all people have the right to be protected from environmental hazards and to live in and enjoy a clean and healthful environment. EJ is the equal protection and meaningful involvement of all people with respect to the development, implementation and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations and policies and the equitable distribution of Environmental benefits.

Environmental Justice Populations are those segments of the population that The Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) has determined to be most at risk of being unaware of or unable to participate in environmental decision-making or to gain access to state environmental resource, or are especially vulnerable. EEA defines Environmental Justice Populations as neighborhoods that meet one or more of the following criteria (based on Census and American Community Survey data):

  • the annual median household income is not more than 65% of the statewide annual median household income;
  • minorities comprise 40% or more of the population;
  • 25% or more of households lack English language proficiency; or
  • minorities comprise 25% or more of the population and the annual median household income of the municipality in which the neighborhood is located does not exceed 150 percent of the statewide annual median household income.

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MWRA's Commitment to Environmental Justice

MWRA is committed to ensuring inclusive and equitable communication, access, and involvement with all members of the communities we serve. MWRA is working to incorporate EJ principles across MWRA’s programs, policies and activities. This work relates to all aspects of MWRA’s mission including construction projects, system operations, public and community relations, grant opportunities, employee training, hiring practices, procurement and much more.

Approximately 60% of residents in MWRA’s service area live in Environmental Justice populations as defined and identified by EEA. MWRA strives to maintain and improve the water and wastewater systems in an environmentally conscious and compliant manner, equitably for all customers. 

Please click the map above or here for an enlarged PDF version.

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Related MWRA Resources

  • MWRA EJ Strategy
  • How to translate MWRA’s website:
    In an effort to increase accessibility, MWRA is working to incorporate Google Translate throughout its website. To use this tool, simply select the desired language from the dropdown box at the top of the page to be translated. The page will automatically translate into the selected language.
  • MWRA's Employment Page:
    This page contains links to employment opportunities at MWRA and highlights MWRA’s commitment to Equal Opportunity and Diversity Equity and Inclusion in hiring practices.
  • MWRA's Consumer Confidence Report (CCR):
    This annual report provides the results of MWRA’s water quality testing efforts and is mailed to every customer in MWRA’s water communities. Individualized reports are prepared for each water community and a general report is translated into Spanish.
  • MWRA Construction Projects:
    This page contains updates regarding ongoing MWRA construction projects. These projects can involve upgrading treatment facilities, constructing new storage facilities or replacing 100-year old pipe.
  • MWRA Capital Improvement Plan:
    This plan outlines planned spending for infrastructure rehabilitation and improvements necessary to protect public health, improve service delivery to customer communities and fulfill obligations to meet environmental mandates.
  • MWRA CSO & SSO Notifications:
    This page contains links to MWRA’s Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) and Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) Notification pages.
  • MWRA Lead Loan Program:
    Through this program, MWRA provides up to $100 million in 10-year zero-interest loans to MWRA water communities for efforts to fully replace lead service lines (the pipe that connects your house to the street). According to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, lead exposure disproportionally impacts lower income communities and communities of color, and childhood exposure to relatively low levels of lead can cause severe and irreversible health effects. Lead paint, dirt, and dust is the primary cause of childhood lead exposure. MWRA’s water is lead-free when it leaves the reservoirs and local water lines do not add lead to the water. However, lead can leech into water if it travels through lead service lines or fixtures.
  • Infiltration/Inflow Local Financial Assistance:
    Through this program, MWRA provides $760 million in grants and interest-free loans to MWRA sewer communities to perform local infiltration and inflow “I/I” reduction and sewer rehabilitation. I/I removal is crucial to ensure capacity in the wastewater system and prevent CSOs and SSO in downstream areas.
  • MWRA School Program:
    MWRA’s School Program provides educational resources for parents and teachers, videos, activities, and printable coloring pages related to water and environmental education.
  • MWRA Water Fountain:
    MWRA’s portable water fountain provides free, cold drinking water to public events in communities throughout the service area.  For inquiries, contact Katherine Ronan, Project Manager, Environmental Permitting, at (857) 289-1742.

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Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Resources

  • EEA EJ Homepage:
    This page contains information regarding environmental justice efforts in Massachusetts.
  • EEA EJ Policy:
    This policy outlines EEA efforts to better serve the environmental needs of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents.
  • EEA's Interactive EJ Map Viewer:
    This GIS map viewer displays EJ populations as defined and identified by EEA.
  • EEA’s Interactive Languages Spoken Map Viewer:
    This GIS map view displays languages spoken by at least 5% of the population who self-identify as “do not speak English very well”, by census tract.
  • MA DPH EJ Tool:
    This interactive DPH tool is intended to facilitate the EEA EJ Policy and enhance inclusive community planning.
  • EEA EJ Task Force:
    As a quasi-state agency, MWRA is proud to participate in this EEA EJ Task Force and play a role in shaping and advancing EEA’s EJ policy and initiatives.

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Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Resources

  • EPA EJ Homepage:
    This page provides a variety of useful background information on EJ from EPA, including an interesting interactive timeline about the history of the EJ Movement in the United States.
  • EPA EJ Factsheet:
    A quick reference for helpful EJ information and tools.
  • EPA EJScreen 2.0:
    This screening and mapping tool produced by EPA provides nationally consistent data and an approach that combines environmental and demographic indicators in maps and reports. EPA does not label or designate communities as Environmental Justice populations.

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Other EJ Resources and Events

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MWRA EJ Point of Contact

To find out more about MWRA’s efforts, please contact:

Tomeka Cribb-Jones, Associate Special Assistant for Affirmative Action at Tomeka.Cribb-Jones@mwra.com or 617-788-4033.

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Updated August 25, 2022

PDF files on this site require Adobe Acrobat Reader (free download)

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