Press Release

Press Release Baker-Polito Administration Invests $2 Million in Emergency Power to Protect Water Quality in Merrimack River

Funding for Greater Lawrence Sanitary District Will Prevent Wastewater Spills
For immediate release:
  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Invests $2 Million in Emergency Power to Protect Water Quality in Merrimack River

Joseph Ferson, Public Affairs Office

BOSTON The Baker-Polito Administration today provided $2 million in capital funding to the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) to provide backup power for their Riverside Pump Station. This investment will allow GLSD to purchase and install backup power generators to prevent spills into the Merrimack River during cases of long-term power outages.

“Our administration has made clean water a priority, and this investment will help ensure residents are able to enjoy the Merrimack River and protect its natural resources,” said Governor Charlie Baker.

“Investments in water infrastructure provide important benefits to the public health of communities,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “To protect the Commonwealth’s environment, we are pleased to partner with the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District on this important project to build toward a cleaner and safer Merrimack River.”

Established by law in 1968, the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District is responsible for sewage collection, treatment, and disposal for the City of Lawrence, and the Towns of Methuen, Andover, and North Andover. GLSD’s Riverside Pump Station accepts contaminated water flows from 99 percent of the service area and diverts them to the facility’s wastewater treatment plant where the water is properly treated and discharged into the Merrimack River.

In 2017, GLSD experienced power failures affecting both the main plant and the Riverside Pump Station and as a result were unable to accept, treat, and discharge water. Due to the large volume of water caused by a storm, wastewater levels exceeded the capacity of the combined sewer overflow system and spilled, untreated into the Merrimack River.  In response to these events, MassDEP has entered into an administrative consent order with GLSD requiring them to submit to a schedule to provide alternative on-site power facilities to provide for sustained operation of the facility at full capacity.  The district will use this $2 million to invest in backup power generators to prevent these types of events.

“Through this funding and MassDEP’s consent order, we are proud to announce that the issues being faced by the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District are being addressed,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Matthew Beaton. “Power can be lost at any time during a storm, but this project will make sure the lights stay on and the Merrimack River remains protected.”

“We are pleased to enter into this order with the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “This investment will help the district meet the unique challenges of improving water quality management.”

This funding announcement builds on the Baker-Polito Administration’s continued commitment to protecting the Commonwealth’s water bodies, including awarding almost $100 million in loans through the State Revolving Fund (SRF)  for sewage overflow mitigation projects, and awarding $4.5 million in capital funding to the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to prevent sewage overflows along the Connecticut River.

“Several weeks ago I met with DEP Commissioner Suuberg to strongly advocate for release of these monies,” said State Senator Diana DiZoglio (D-Methuen).  “I am grateful the Commissioner and his team were willing to meet with me so early in this session regarding this issue and that they heard our concerns loud and clear and have agreed to take action on the issues of combined sewer overflows, which will contribute to the overall health of the Merrimack River, from Lawrence and North Andover, all the way up to Newburyport. This funding benefits so many communities who, without this generator, could expect millions of gallons of sewage to potentially be dumped into the river during a power outage. There is of course much more work to be done but this is a huge, tangible win for the Merrimack Valley.”

“We are thrilled the Baker-Polito Administration released the funds for the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District.” said State Representative James Kelcourse (R-Newburyport). “This will not only improve the GLSD’s overall operation of the plant, but protect the communities along the Merrimack River from health hazards caused by combined sewage overflows.”


Media Contact for Baker-Polito Administration Invests $2 Million in Emergency Power to Protect Water Quality in Merrimack River

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection 

MassDEP ensures clean air, land and water. We oversee the safe management and recycling of solid and hazardous wastes. We ensure the timely cleanup of hazardous waste sites and spills. And we work to preserve the state's wetlands and coastal resources.