- Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection
Media Contact for Healey-Driscoll Administration Awards $600,000 in Grants to Assist Local Communities in Meeting Sewage Notification Requirements
BOSTON — To celebrate Earth Week, the Healey-Driscoll Administration today announced that $600,000 in grants have been awarded to 10 regional or municipal wastewater utilities and systems across Massachusetts. This grant program is the first to help local communities meet new requirements to notify the public of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) – which are sewage discharges and untreated stormwater and wastewater – into the surface waters of the Commonwealth. The projects, selected by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), were awarded to the City of Cambridge Department of Public Works, the City of Chelsea, the City of Fitchburg Wastewater Division, the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD), the City of Holyoke, the City of Lowell, the Lynn Water & Sewer Commission (LWSC), the City of Pittsfield, the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission and the Worcester Department of Public Works and Parks.
The funding awarded today will enable regional or municipal wastewater utilities and systems in Massachusetts to expand their efforts to meet the Sewage Notification regulation requirements to notify the public of sewage discharges and overflows to protect and preserve public health. There are more than 240 Massachusetts municipalities subject to the current regulations that took effect on July 6, 2022.
“It is important for the public to be informed about events that result in sewage pollution of surface waterbodies so that people can avoid the water when it may pose a health risk. These new notifications also help raise awareness of infrastructure limitations that result in Combined Sewer Overflows,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Rebecca Tepper. “This funding will enable wastewater utilities to expand their efforts to meet the sewage notification regulatory requirements to better inform the public of these events.”
Regulatory requirements that wastewater treatment plants and communities must meet include notifying the public of sewage discharge and overflow events, posting signage at public access points and making relevant information available online.
“These new regulations have already helped the public become more aware of events that result in sewage pollution of surface water across the Commonwealth,” said MassDEP Commissioner Bonnie Heiple. “These grants will help wastewater utilities improve their public notification timeliness, accuracy, and reliability. The grants will also help utilities develop web interfaces and signage to inform the public across language barriers.”
The groups receiving funding are:
City of Fitchburg Wastewater Division – $71,800
The City of Fitchburg requested financial assistance for work conducted to meet the CSO notification requirements in fiscal year 2023, and upcoming work to be conducted in FY 2023. Upcoming work includes the optimization and final implementation of the public notification system and the development of their Final CSO Notification Plan.
City of Cambridge Department of Public Works – $34,000
The Cambridge Department of Public Works proposed to replace four unreliable battery-powered flow meters at CSO locations with new utility-powered flow meters.
City of Lowell – $66,952
This project involves modernizing the city’s CSO metering equipment, purchasing signage, and upgrading Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) services to assist in the implementation of the CSO Notification Plan.
Worcester Department of Public Works & Parks – $40,000
The City of Worcester sought grant funding to design and install equipment to monitor and measure sewage flow that passes through its existing wet weather bypass conduit to the Blackstone River.
Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) – $121,360
Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) requested funding for work to upgrade the method of transmitting data from their 17 metering stations that detect CSOs. The new system utilizes cell phone and line-of-sight technology to transmit data from the remote stations to the main facility for constant monitoring. GLSD staff will subsequently be able to predict and respond to high flow conditions or, in some instances, anomalies that need further investigation.
Springfield Water and Sewer Commission – $70,982
The Commission sought grant funding to modernize and upgrade their public-facing Sewage Overflow Notification website, as well as pay for meter rentals, and professional consulting support for the annual update to the Collection System Hydraulic Model.
Lynn Water & Sewer Commission (LWSC) – $80,000
The LWSC proposed upgrading the CSO and Sanitary Sewer Overflow (SSO) metering and notification capabilities to include automated real-time public notification system, with specific outreach and inclusion of Environmental Justice communities, as required by state law.
The City of Chelsea – $42,650
The City of Chelsea requested funding for a proposed project to design and install a flashing lights system to indicate when a CSO activation occurs while providing community education. This lighting system is designed to alert the public in a way that addresses language and literacy barriers.
City of Holyoke – $64,039
The City of Holyoke requested funds for implementation of an electronic CSO notification system and translation services to translate notifications to Spanish, as well as signage with a remotely controlled alarm system at three public access points on the Connecticut River.
City of Pittsfield – $8,216
The City of Pittsfield sought funds to reimburse efforts spent developing their SSO Public Notification Plan and develop a wet-weather hydraulic model of the wastewater collection system.
“This critical funding will provide the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District with the resources to make improvements to better notify the public of sewage discharges and overflows to protect and preserve the public health of our community,” said State Representative Frank A. Moran (D – Lawrence). “I would like to thank the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection for prioritizing our community through its Sewage Notification Grant Program and look forward to seeing these funds put to use in the near future.”
“Congratulations to the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District on receiving a grant award through the Sewage Notification Grant program,” said State Senator Pavel Payano (D-Lawrence). “This funding will ensure GLSD continues to have robust water quality monitoring systems and proper management of our region’s wastewater networks. I want to thank the Healey-Driscoll administration and MassDEP for prioritizing initiatives that protect public health and promote environmental justice across the Commonwealth.”
“This grant will provide critical funding to the city of Holyoke to help promote public awareness of sewage pollution,” said State Senator John Velis (D-Westfield). “This funding will not only help the city implement an electronic CSO notification system, but ensure notifications are accessible to our residents and translated into Spanish as well.”
For more information, please visit the Sewage Notification Assistance Grant Program page on MassDEP’s website.