Here are the Mass. cities that saw the most sewage overflows this year

A stormwater pipe discharges into Alewife Brook. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)
This pipe in Arlington discharges dirty stormwater into the Alewife Brook. (Robin Lubbock/WBUR)

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Let’s talk about poop — and climate change.

You may not usually associate the two with each other. But together, they’re causing a bit of a stink in Massachusetts, as WBUR’s Miriam Wasser explains in this new story about so-called combined sewer overflows, or CSOs. Let’s get into it.

That dirty water: Most sewer systems keep wastewater (what goes down the toilet or sink) and stormwater runoff (what goes down storm drain) separate. However, older systems used to send the two down the same combined pipes, which is mostly fine — except when it rains hard. When that happens (and it happened a lot this summer), the pipes get overwhelmed and overflow into rivers or other waterways through a CSO outlet. That’s better than sewage backing up into homes, but it’s not great (unless you like E.coli and other viruses). As rain storms become more intense thanks to climate change, these sewage overflows are likely to happen more often.

  • Where exactly are CSOs in Massachusetts? There are 194, mostly in old industrial cities. And many are in lower-income neighborhoods. Boston has the most (36), followed by New Bedford (26), Springfield (23), Fall River (17) and Chicopee (16). Click here for a map of every CSO in the state.
  • How often do they overflow? Between this April and September, there were 1,943 overflows in Massachusetts — nearly triple the amount that occurred during the same period in 2022. Scroll down in Miriam’s story to see when and where each happened.
  • Which ones overflow the most? Here’s where Fall River residents may want to stop reading. Miriam reports that one CSO in Fall River overflowed 76 times into the Taunton River this summer — the most of any in the state. Two other Fall River CSOs located nearby also overflowed over 50 times. In Boston, a CSO by East Boston’s LoPresti Park and one in Fort Point Channel were tied for the most overflows (18). Click here for a more detailed list.
  • How to flush the problem away: Read Miriam’s full story to find out what officials are trying to do about CSOs and the challenges they face.

A Medway couple and their 1-year-old son remain trapped in Gaza as violence escalates between Israel and Hamas. Despite at least three State Department messages telling them to head to the border, Abood Okal and his wife Wafaa Abuzayda have been unable to pass through the Rafah Crossing into Egypt, WBUR’s Deborah Becker reports.

  • Okal told CNN the border crossing attempts are wasting the remaining fuel in their cars. They’ve also had close calls with Israeli missiles, despite evacuating to a safe zone in Rafah. “There was a bombing, an airstrike about 100 meters away from the house,” he said. “There’s constant shelling, constant airstrikes.”
  • Meanwhile in Massachusetts: Needham resident Jason Greenberg is grieving the loss of two relatives in Israel who were kidnapped and killed by Hamas. Greenberg told WBUR’s Amy Sokolow that the Israeli military found the bodies of 80-year-old Carmela Dan and 12-year-old Noya Dan at the Gaza border. He’s also still waiting to hear the status of three other relatives who were kidnapped.

Don’t (necessarily) blame Charlie Baker: That was Gov. Maura Healey’s response when asked about her predecessor’s culpability for the recent news that top MBTA officials knew about widespread track defects across the Green Line Extension as it was being constructed during his administration. Healey told WBZ there’s no sign Baker personally knew about the problems. Instead, she placed blame on former members of MBTA management, noting “we’ve made a number of personnel changes over the last several months.”

  • In his words: A spokesperson for Baker told WCVB that his office was “never informed” the tracks were too narrow.

P.S.— Making new friends as an adult (especially in a new place) can be hard, but we’re here to make it easier. Swing by CitySpace tonight for our new “Speed Friending” event. There’ll be free snacks, drinks and conversation prompts to get things flowing. Bring your friends or come by yourself — most people do! Get tickets here.


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Nik DeCosta-Klipa Newsletter Editor
Nik DeCosta-Klipa is the newsletter editor for WBUR.



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