Improvements to Boston‚ Aging System. The water system was built in 1884, and many water line mains are more than a century old. But the city has made great strides to improve the system.
• Less Water Lost. Boston delivers less water daily than was lost in unbilled water three decades ago. 70 percent reduction in unbilled water since 1980
• Cost effective practices. Reduced operating costs 19 percent against inflation over the last decade
• Water Line Repair and Replacement. The city is relining 17 miles a year of water mains and pipelines to rehabilitate every pipe more than 100 years old by 2010
– 1.3 miles a year of deteriorated or collapsed sewers and storm drains are replaced
Infrastructure Needs. Boston‚ water systems need more than a billion dollars worth of improvements in the next five years.
• Boston Water & Sewer Commission. $183 million from 2008 to 2010
– $95 million for the water distribution system, $82 million for the sewers
• Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. The authority provides Boston, its largest customer, with water and wastewater treatment services. It has a $1.3 billion capital improvement program from 2008 to 2013
– $734 million on wastewater system improvements, including 25 projects to reduce sewage overflows as federally mandated
– $493 million on waterworks improvements, including pipe replacement and repair
– 80 percent of the projects have been mandated by state or federal regulations
• Inadequate State Support. In 1994, after public outcry against rising water and sewer rates, the commonwealth legislature created a debt service assistance program to offset 20 percent of the debt service for wastewater projects.
– Over the years, MWRA got an average 80 percent of the funding.
– Eliminated in 2003 because of the state fiscal crisis, reduced MWRA revenue by 10%
– Restored in 2004, but still inadequate. Funding levels fell from $60 million in 2002 to $15 million proposed for 2009
• Boston‚ Water and Sewer Rates. With great needs and diminishing state and federal assistance, rates will have to increase
– $965 average annual water and sewer bill in 2007, a 9.5 percent jump from 2006
– But the city offers a 25 percent discount on water bills to assist the elderly and disabled residents and 8 of the last 12 years saw no rate increase
• Sewage Overflows. Although Boston is nearing the completion of its federally mandated combined sewer overflow remediation program, problems still arise.
– 33 damage claims filed by South Boston and Dorchester residents in July 2008, for thousands of dollars of damage after stormwater overloaded the sewers and raw sew-age poured from toilets and drains
• High Drinking Water Quality. The water violates no state or federal regulations
– No pharmaceuticals detected (tested for 31 commonly found compounds)
• Harbor Cleanup. Once known as the filthiest harbor in the nation is now much cleaner
– City spent $4.5 billion cleaning up Boston‚ beaches.