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Water Quality Programs

Stormwater Monitoring

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) was issued an NPDES Stormwater Permit by the Environmental Protection Agency in 1999. During the five-year permit term, the Commission must monitor the quality of stormwater discharges in three drainage areas that represent different land uses. The Commission must also monitor four bodies of water that receive stormwater during wet weather. Results of the monitoring will be used by the Commission to improve its existing stormwater management program.

Catch Basin Stenciling

In an effort to increase public awareness of environmental pollution, BWSC will solicit volunteers and work with school students to stencil messages next to stormwater catch basins that read - " Don't Dump Drains to Boston Harbor". The program highlights the water quality impacts of stormwater discharges and educates people about the importance of keeping streets, sidewalks and other impervious surfaces free from litter, debris and other contaminants.

Improving Water Quality in the Emerald Necklace

The City of Boston is working with state and federal agencies and the Town of Brookline to develop a series of long-term measures to address water quality and flood control issues associated with the Muddy River.

Land and Water Conservation Fund

Through a series of events, the Environmental Services Cabinet, working with its partners, The Wilderness Society and Americans for our Heritage and Recreation, will build a grassroots coalition to advocate for greater appropriations of this annual $900 million federal fund collected from oil and gas lease revenues. We hope to dentify specific urban environmental needs, issues, and opportunities via community conferences. Results will be presented to Congress to urge support of the fund.

Seaport Study

In March 1996, in cooperation with Massport and the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the city released the Port of Boston Economic Development Plan. This seaport plan calls for expanding and upgrading maritime industries and increasing opportunities for tourism and water transportation. The Museum Route Shuttle ran again this past summer, connecting visitors to waterfront museums by boat. A new ferry service from Fore River in Quincy to Boston now runs 7 days a week between 6AM and 10PM.

Central Artery/Tunnel

The Boston Redevelopment Authority and the City of Boston are participating in the Boston 2000 plan, a state-city-community process to integrate the STAF plan into open space and building development, regarding design, land disposition, management and maintenance issues. To date, committees have analyzed current conditions and begun to make recommendations for open space ownership, management, and maintenance. Additionally, they have begun the process of drafting disposition legislation, targeting funding needs and sources, and developing guidelines for design of parcels,open spaces and streetscapes.

Electric Utility Deregulation

Electric utility restructuring was delayed one year by the state Department of Public Utilities. The City's Environment Department will continue to take an active role in tracking federal and state processes to ensure that deregulation promotes the interests of the City and its citizens in energy conservation, sustainable energy use and economic justice.

Indoor Air Quality

Staff from the Inspectional Services Department will participate on a State committee charged with developing internal air quality standards. These standards will ultimately be incorporated into the State Building Cod and will address indoor air quality issues prior to construction.

Illegal Connections Corrections 

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission has a citywide program to identify and eliminate connections from building sewers that illegally discharge into the stormwater system. By removing these connections, contamination is removed from the storm drains that discharge to Boston Harbor, the Charles, Neponset, and Mystic Rivers and to local area brooks.

Reserved Channel Sewer Separation

The Boston Water and Sewer Commission’s (BWSC) Reserved Channel Sewer Separation Project involves separating the combined sewer system in the Reserved Channel area of South Boston. The purpose of this federal, court-ordered project is to reduce pollution levels in Boston Harbor and to lower sewage treatment costs. The project involves taking the current “combined” sewer system that handles both sanitary sewage and stormwater, and splitting it into two separate systems.

Newmarket Square Sewer Separation

Newmarket Square Sewer Separation Project, similar to the Reserved Channel project, involves separating the combined sewer system in the Newmarket Square area of Lower Roxbury. The purpose of this project is to reduce pollution levels in Boston Harbor by separating the combined sewer into two separate lines.  When construction is complete, sanitary sewage will be sent to the MWRA's Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, while stormwater will be discharged to the Fort Point Channel.   As a result, stormwater will no longer be sent to Deer Island for unnecessary treatment and Boston’s waterways will endure less pollution from sewer overflows during storm events.