The following letter was submitted to The Boston Globe as a response to the op-ed on April 2, 2022 regarding the Boston Harbor Cleanup and the CSO program.

To the Editor.

We respect the advocacy of Emily Norton (Charles River Watershed Association) and Patrick Herron (Mystic River Watershed Association) as demonstrated in (the cleanup of Boston Harbor is Incomplete 4/2).

We all share in the desire for a cleaner Charles and Mystic Rivers and acknowledge all branches of government need to do more. However, idealistic hopes must be balanced with realistic, responsible, well thought out, cost-effective solutions.

That is the reason the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority has sought and received extensions on its final Combined Sewer Overflow assessment plans, so as to further evaluate the causes and sources of pollutants.

What is already known is even if the MWRA magically ended all CSO flow into the rivers, the problem would not be solved.

Upstream stormwater and illegal connections contribute most of the bacterial loads. Combined systems of which 94% are treated contribute less than 0.1% of the pollutant loadings. MWRA is not the source of the problem. Stormwater drainage systems of individual communities are the problem.

Green infrastructure sounds great if you have the acreage. In order to detain the flow, you need approximately 3 acres for every 1 million gallons. Secondly, effectiveness of these “green measures” are still being determined (just ask Philadelphia).

Let’s continue to collect and analyze data and ultimately develop solutions that solve the problem, not just pass it off to the MWRA.



Joe Favaloro

Executive Director

MWRA Advisory Board