Thursday, March 18, 2010

And the answer is: Ironically good news about sewage.

Harbor Seals off Deer Island - Photo by Bruce Berman

Today's Boston Globe story by David Abel on Monday's release of 15 million gallons of sewage and storm water got it right - as they usually do on complicated and important stories about Boston Harbor.

The recent discharge of 15 million gallons of sewage into Boston Harbor and Quincy Bay is good news.

Though no one is proud of the fact that the MWRA was forced to release any sewage at all, let's put in context. Before the clean-up we routinely discharged millions of gallons of largely untreated human waste into Boston Harbor nearly every day.

On Monday, in the worst rainstorm in recent memory, The MWRA treated a record amount sewage in a single day before they finally exceeded the capacity of the system - and were forced to make a controlled release of about 15 million gallons.

Do the math yourself - 2,000,000 x 365 is 730 million gallons of sewage a year before the Boston arbor Clean-up- compared to 15 million for all 2010.

From experience I expect that water quality in the harbor will rebound within 24 -48 hours - though the sheer volume of stormwater may continue to cause elevated levels of bacteria until the rivers recede.

As the long-time spokesman for Save the Harbor /Save the Bay, the region's leading voice for the restoration and protection of Boston Harbor, the waterfront, the harbor islands, and our region's public beaches I am never happy about any discharge of waste in to the marine environment.

Is there more work to do? You bet, on the beaches, and in the rivers - as we work to reduce storm water discharges and/or cso's that have made some of our region's beaches unsafe for swimming on too many hot summer days.

I live, work and play on the Harbor and the Bay. With all due respect to my readers with sensitive ears, sometimes "sh*t happens, as it did on Monday, and will again from time to time - and perhaps with increasing frequency, if the current weather patters continue.

That said, the system worked as promised - and the MWRA should be applauded for the extraordinary success they have achieved here on Boston Harbor, and not criticized for their performance during this extraordinary series of storms.

Bruce Berman

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