State Approves $2 Million to Combat Combined Sewage Overflow Along Merrimack River

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced it will release $2 million to the Greater Lawrence Sanitary District (GLSD) for the purchase of an emergency generator for the Riverside Pump Station.

Located in North Andover, the Riverside Pump Station treats more than 10 billion gallons of wastewater annually and serves about 250,000 residents in the cities of Lawrence and Methuen, as well as the towns of Andover, Dracut, North Andover and Salem, New Hampshire.

With the release of the $2 million for the emergency generator, residents of these communities — and other communities downriver — will be protected from a potential spill of raw sewage into the Merrimack River in the event of a power outage.

These funds were previously secured in the Senate’s 2018 Environmental Bond Bill but may not be released without the approval of the Governor’s Office through the Department of Environmental Protection. State Senator Diana DiZoglio, (D-Methuen), has in recent months strongly advocated for the release of these funds and met recently with DEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg to make the case for the generator.

“I am grateful the Commissioner and his team were willing to meet with me so early in this session regarding this issue, that they heard our concerns loud and clear, and have agreed that we need to take immediate action on the issue of combined sewer overflows,” said DiZoglio. “This generator will contribute to the overall health of the Merrimack River, from Lawrence and North Andover, all the way up to Newburyport.

“This funding benefits so many communities who, without this generator, could expect millions of gallons of sewage to potentially be dumped into the river during a power outage,” said DiZoglio. “There is, of course, much more work to be done but this is a huge, tangible win for the Merrimack Valley.”

“The Greater Lawrence Sanitary District wishes to thank Governor Baker, the Massachusetts DEP, the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, all current and former senators, representatives, mayors and town managers who worked to make this possible,” said Cheri Cousens, executive director of the GLSD. “This was a huge collaborative effort and it shows what we can do when everyone works together for one common goal. Hopefully this can continue in resolving long-term concerns related to combined sewer overflow”