Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Region 1: EPA New England

Other Strategies to Protect Charles River

Municipal Illicit Connections

EPA has completed most of the work to detect and remove illicit connections – especially those that connect sewer pipes directly to storm drains. The effort to eliminate illicit connections that commenced in January of 1995 has proven extremely effective and has eliminated over 1 million gallons of flow per day of sewage to the river. 

While some municipalities continue to find fecal coliform above acceptable levels a variety of other sources could be contributing to this problem: animals, flow from other cities, or, most significantly, flow that seeps into storm drain systems through loose joints, accumulates there, and is then flushed out during wet weather events.  

Municipalities are sorting out these issues and attempting to track down the final, direct illicit connections. Once complete this will be followed by compliance sampling to confirm that the identified direct illicit connections have been thoroughly remediated. 

State SRF Funding

The MA DEP State Revolving Loan Fund (SRF), a successor to the construction grants program, is a mix of state and federal money that provides low/zero-interest loans on a competitive need basis to fund water pollution control projects. A summary of recent sewer and stormwater pollution abatement projects located in the Charles Basin are summarized below. (It should be noted that other municipalities have undertaken projects without SRF assistance).

Charles River SRF Project Funding 1995 - 2007
Year Municipality CWSRF Loan Amt Project Description
1998-1999 Boston $13,401,790 Gardner St. Landfill Closure
2006 Cambridge $23,944,253 Cambridge Park Drive Area Drainage Project
2005 Cambridge $8,456,150 Stormwater Management Improvements
2003 Cambridge $3,042,212 Cambridgeport Area-wide Stormwater Improvements
1998-2000 Cambridge $22,490,000 Phase VI, Contract 3 Sewer Seperation
1997 Cambridge $3,562,000 Floatables and BMP Control Plan
1995 Cambridge $11,727,293 Common Manhole Rehab and Illicit Connection Removal
2000 Dedham $30,000 Drainage Capactiy Assessment
2000 Dedham $300,000 SSO Evaluation
1998 Dedham $800,000 Stormwater Management Plan
1996 Dedham $50,000 Stormwater Study River St. area
1998 Needham $500,000 NPS Pollutino Study
2000 Newton $126,000 Complete Laundry Brook Invest.
1998-1999 Newton $14,638,000 Laundry Brook/Cheesecake Brook Underdrain Seperation
1998 Newton $117,000 Laundry Brook subarea illicit connection idnetifiation/removal
1998 Newton $385,000 Albermarle St./Concord St. I/I removal
2004 Norfolk $253,000 Stormwater Management Plan
2007 Waltham $600,000 Illicit Connection Detection
2006 Waltham $650,000 SSES/CWMP
2006 Waltham $505,000 Sewer Rehabilitation
2005 Waltham $2,522,569 Sewer Rehabilitation

Other EPA-Funded Projects

In February 2003, the Charles River was selected as one of only 10 sites in the country for piloting EPA's new water quality trading program. Using a $106,000 grant from the EPA, The Charles River Watershed Association is pursuing a first-of-its-kind project in which increased instream flows in the river would be used as a trading tool for addressing the river's water quality problems.

The project is in response to increased development in the Charles River watershed, which has resulted in lower water levels in aquifers, streams and the river itself. By setting up a trading program, the watershed association plans to create a market to increase flows in the Charles, particularly between April and December, thus decreasing concentrations of pollutants in the river and providing greater habitat and resilience to droughts. For more details »

In May of 2003, the Charles River was selected by EPA Administrator Christie Whitman as one of 20 watersheds to receive funding under EPA's recently launched Watershed Initiative. The CWRA will receive $400,000 to pursue a variety of projects to improve water quality through this grant.

Jump to main content.