By George Graham
The Connecticut River Clean-up Committee has been awarded a $1.5 million grant to help the cities of Springfield, Holyoke and Chicopee reduce sewer overflows and wastewater discharges and improve water quality in the Connecticut River watershed.
The Baker-Polito administration awarded the grant, which will be administered by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, earlier this week.
The Connecticut River Clean-up Committee has been working for more than 20 years to eliminate water pollution from combined sewer overflows (CSOs) in the Connecticut River and its tributaries.
Patrick Beaudry, manager of public affairs for the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, said the thrust of the work involves undoing the infrastructure, built as long as a century or more ago, that combine stormwater and sewage into the same set of pipes.
"With storms, untreated water gets pushed out into the river," he said. "We have spent 25 years separating the pipes."
This fourth round of funding will be used to assist the local communities in completing high-priority CSO reduction projects. As part of the commonwealth's Capital Investment Plan, $3 million has been awarded to the Connecticut River Clean-up Committee efforts to date, with this week's award bringing the total to $4.5 million.
Last year's grant, also $1.5 million, went toward Holyoke's Jackson Street Sewer Separation and CSO Abatement project, the Springfield Water & Sewer Commission's York Street Pump Station and Connecticut River Crossing project and Chicopee's Baystate/Clarendon Sewer Separation and CSO Abatement project.
Beaudry said the three cities are currently putting together their proposals for this year's funding.