With news this week of a consent decree between the EPA and Quincy calling on this city to spend more than $ 100 million to fix leaking sewage and stormwater systems to reduce the pollution that spills out in nearby rivers and Boston Harbor, we are seeing continued progress over this long period. standing problem.
Quincy and many other towns along the east coast and upstream of the Merrimack River have long used nearby waterways as dumping grounds for overflows from sewage treatment systems that are overloaded during severe storms . This journal has covered the problem of Combined Sewer Overflows, or CSOs, in the Merrimack Valley and on the North Shore, and we applaud the efforts to spend money to stop this environmentally damaging trend.
A year ago, Manchester, New Hampshire and the EPA struck a similar deal that calls for the city to spend $ 231 million over the next several decades to bring Machester’s sewage and stormwater infrastructure to the forefront. modern standards.
Just this week, Congresswoman Lori Trahan testified before the House Appropriations Committee about the need for increased federal investment to prevent CSOs from polluting waterways like the Merrimack River.
CSOs are the product of combined sewer and stormwater systems, which exist in more than 800 communities across the country, including Lowell, Lawrence and Haverhill.
Earlier this year, Trahan reintroduced the Stop Sewage Overflow Act to expand and improve the EPA’s municipal stormwater reuse grant program, which is used to award federal grants to states and municipalities for planning, the design and construction of projects aimed at reducing CSOs. She has also successfully pushed alongside her fellow federal elected officials representing communities along the Merrimack River for increased EPA investments in the grant program.
Repairing these old systems will cost billions of dollars and take decades. For example, the deal the EPA has with Quincy requires the work to be completed by the end of 2034 – 13 years from now.
But these agreements between the cities of Manchester and Quincy, and the EPA, are significant. Add to these efforts to put in place a CSO reporting system along the Merrimack and the future looks brighter – and the rivers, cleaner.
It is only through significant federal, state and local investments and continued public awareness that we will see progress in cleaning up our rivers and coasts.