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EPA Takes Steps to Improve Water Quality in Mystic Tributaries Downstream of Belmont, Mass.

Contact Information: 
Emily Bender (

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has entered into an agreement with the Town of Belmont, Massachusetts to address stormwater discharges of pollutants to the Mystic River watershed. While the Town has completed several rounds of sewer repairs over the past few years, recent EPA data indicated sewage from cracked and leaking sewers was making its way into the storm drain system and discharging to surface waters in the Mystic River watershed, including Winn's Brook, Wellington Brook, and the Little River.

The agreement, in the form of an Administrative Order on Consent, requires the Town to submit an Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination Plan, assess its sanitary sewer system, and remove all illicit discharges to the system within five years. If removal within five years is not possible, the town must submit a schedule to EPA for approval.

This agreement is part of a larger effort by EPA New England, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and communities to improve water quality within the Mystic River watershed. Each year, EPA New England – in collaboration with the Mystic River Watershed Association – issues a Water Quality Report Card for the Mystic River Watershed. During the 2015 calendar year, tributaries feeding the Mystic River in Belmont including Winn's Brook, Little River, and Alewife Brook received grades ranging from "F" to "D+" based on poor bacterial water quality.

EPA used advanced monitoring techniques, such as the forensic analyses of selected pharmaceutical compounds commonly found in sewage, to identify illicit discharges of sewage to the storm drain system. This effort has allowed EPA to inform communities of exactly where illicit discharges are occurring so they can be addressed as quickly as possible.

As part of the Boston Harbor cleanup effort, EPA New England enforcement actions under the Clean Water Act have eliminated in excess of 37,000 gallons of sewage per day from discharging to storm drains in the Mystic River watershed, and have eliminated nearly 200,000 gallons per day of sewage discharging to the Boston Harbor watershed as a whole.

More Information:

For more information about EPA's Mystic River efforts, visit EPA's web site at

EPA continues to work closely with the regulated community to improve water quality. Additional resources on this topic can be found at

EPA's website on municipal stormwater contains additional resources for municipalities (