Today, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority held a ceremony in South Boston to mark the opening of its combined sewer overflow (CSO) storage tunnel, which will eliminate CSOs and stormwater discharges to the beaches in South Boston after all but the heaviest of storms.
Speakers at this morning’s event included Boston Mayor Thomas Menino; Senator Jack Hart; Rick Sullivan, Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs and the Chairman of MWRA’s Board of Directors; H. Curtis Spalding, EPA Regional Administrator; Federal District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns; DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert; and MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey.
“Today, Massachusetts marks a significant environmental and public health milestone,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “The completion of this project ensures that the shores of Boston Harbor will be among the cleanest urban beaches in the country, enhancing recreational opportunities for city residents and visitors alike.”
“This project marks yet another major milestone in the Boston Harbor cleanup, one of the greatest environmental restoration efforts in our nation’s history. The results are visible across our city,” said Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino “and I commend the MWRA for making this project a reality and I thank our ratepayers for their investment in a cleaner environment that will continue to pay dividends in the future.”
“The cleanup of Boston Harbor and its public beaches is an outstanding example what happens when citizens advocate for issues important to them, and government then listens, makes promises, and fulfills those promises with strategic investments. The investments made by the MWRA in state-of-the-art wastewater treatment infrastructure and by the Patrick-Murray Administration to improve and maintain high quality beach facilities represent promises kept, and I can assure you we intend to keep those commitments so that Boston Harbor remains the shining jewel it is today,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard K. Sullivan, Jr.
Until today, combined sewer overflows discharged about 20 times a year at six outfalls along the South Boston beaches. From now on, CSO and stormwater flows will be stored in the tunnel until the storm subsides. The tunnel will then be pumped out and the flows sent to Deer Island for treatment and discharge.
“Over a long period of time, many groups and individuals have shown great commitment and worked very hard on the difficult task of cleaning up Boston Harbor. This work is now paying off real dividends for our residents who can take advantage of the urban beaches right here in the Boston area and, on a hot summer day, enjoy a swim in clean healthy water,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office.
This project was mandated under the same federal court order that oversaw the Boston Harbor Cleanup program.
Federal District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns, who oversees the Boston Harbor case said, “Today marks the completion of another important milestone in the cleanup of Boston Harbor. The court has not been the easiest of taskmasters - on April 14th of this year, I issued the 219th Compliance Order in this historic endeavor. At every step of the way, the men and women of the MWRA have risen to the challenge. And this step is one in which the ratepayers and the community at large can take particular delight - the goal was to have this $225 million project finished in time for the 2011 swimming season and under director Laskey's leadership, it has been met.”
“The positive environmental development at our beaches is also an investment in our recreational resources. From our beaches to the Harbor islands, this work enables us to take back our urban waterfronts, enhancing the quality of life of our residents,” said DCR Commissioner Ed Lambert.
The South Boston CSO Storage Tunnel is the single largest project in MWRA’s $850 million program to control combined sewer overflows. The project also received $9.09 million in federal stimulus funding.