Improving Water Quality

A critical element of the City of New Bedford’s wastewater collection and treatment system – – the 30-mgd water pollution control facility – – was in violation of the Clean Water Act. In 1987, the city entered into a consent decree with the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP, formerly DEQE), and the Conservation Law Foundation to begin planning, design, and construction of a new water pollution control facility to provide both primary and secondary treatment. The consent decree specifically mandates that the city improve its wastewater collection and treatment systems, and includes a court-enforceable schedule. The successful startup of the water pollution control facility on August 22, 1996 was a critical milestone in the process to improve the city’s treatment systems.

As both a tribute to its heritage and in recognition of its resources for the future, the city is reinvesting in its waterfront area. And now – – through the planning, design, and construction of its new 30-mgd water pollution control facility – – is making pivotal contributions to water quality in Buzzards Bay. Water quality standards for the Bay are determined by the DEP and monitored by continued water quality sampling. Since operation of the new facility started on August 22, 1996, conventional pollutant facility discharges are substantially cleaner than that from the old facility.