CSO-12-flow-1-crop-wInvesting in cleaner rivers – it is up to us. Rainfall – sometimes as little as 1/2″ – can overwhelm our aging sewer systems and cause untreated sewage and rainwater to discharge into our rivers and streams. Rainfall washes all kinds of pollution from parking lots, lawns, and roads which can make our water sick for both people and animals. This is a problem throughout the watershed, particularly in communities who designed their sewers to collect both sewage and rainwater. Throughout New England communities have been investing hundreds of millions of dollars to modernize their sewage treatment plants and sewer lines to reduce or in some cases eliminate this problem. The Council works with communities as well as state and federal government to create the best solutions to this problem because these are critical investments for our economy and our environment. Our rivers shouldn’t make us sick.

Thanks to investments made by people throughout the watershed there has been real progress. In western Massachusetts, over 1 billion gallons of untreated sewage and rainwater no longer discharge when it rains. Over 18 miles of the Chicopee River have no discharges at all thanks to pipes being removed. Five western Massachusetts towns have completely eliminated pipes that would discharge during rain events. Eight communities in the Hartford, CT region have voted to spend over $1.6 billion dollars to improve their sewage treatment and significantly reduce discharges over the next twenty years.

But there is more to do in cities throughout the watershed and we will continue pushing for robust solutions and strong voter support for this critical work.

Speaking up for the river in Hartford

In 2012 the Watershed Council and other advocates supported the greater Hartford region with a creative advocacy and information campaign on the value of their rivers. On Election Day voters in the eight MDC towns (Bloomfield, East Hartford, Hartford, Newington, Rocky Hill, West Hartford, Wethersfield and Windsor) approved the Clean Water Project with overwhelming support by voting β€œYes” to clean rivers . Your votes expressed that, even in challenging economic times, we value our rivers and communities enough to help make them cleaner and safer.

The Clean Water Project will stop over 1 billion gallons of raw sewage from entering the Connecticut and Park Rivers every year. By investing your money in gray and green infrastructure and better treatment plants we will have healthier river communities and a healthier economy. This phase of the work is projected to cost $800 million dollars. That’s a lot of money, but an average household will only see an increase of $48 each quarter in their bill. That’s less than the cost of a daily cup of coffee!

Here’s what your neighbors said about why they invest in their rivers:

Gladys, is a Hartford resident and advocate

Jeff, photographer who has paddled the entire length of the Connecticut River and Diane is a local real estate agent

Christian, is a youth environmental leader (video en Espanol)

Clare – future River Steward!

To learn more about the Clean Water Project visit the Metropolitan District Commission (MDC) website.