A wastewater treatment plant in Lowell, Massachusetts, discharged 84 million gallons of rainwater mixed with raw sewage into the Merrimack River on Apr. 29.
A wastewater treatment plant in Lowell discharged 84 million gallons of rainwater mixed with raw sewage into the Merrimack River on Apr. 29.
According to the Boston Herald, a combined sewer overflow (CSO) pushed more than twice as much sewage water into the river than the Halloween storm that occurred four years ago.
Sewage-filled water discharged into the river for 12 hours on Apr. 29, according to a report from the utility obtained by the Boston Herald.
Due to the CSO, everything in the system including raw sewage from toilets and septic tanks discharged straight into the Merrimack River, reported the Boston Herald. According to Lowell Wastewater Utility, some equipment in the plant was being serviced during the storm which impacted its ability to treat a high amount of water at one time.
The Merrimack River supplies drinking water for Lowell, Lawrence, Methuen and Tewksbury.
“That’s one of the biggest events we’ve seen in years,” said Merrimack River Watershed Council policy specialist John Macone about the CSO. “We’ve found a couple of days after a storm, the bacteria levels in Newburyport are over six times what the maximum level safe for swimming should be.”
According to the Boston Herald, the Lowell plant dumped sewage-filled water into the river recently, on Memorial Day weekend, after a heavy storm forced an overflow into the river for two hours. The amount of untreated wastewater discharged has not been released to the public yet.
Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday added that with the help of engineering consultants, that her administration is developing an alert system to predict and communicate to area residents when overflows occur, reported the Boston Herald.