In 1848, Lake Cochituate in Natick was utilized as Boston’s second surface water supply to meet the needs of the city’s growing population.
The Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) was created to maintain and improve the long-term quality and reliability of water and sewer services in the City of Boston. Today, BWSC’s primary goals are cost control, efficient delivery of service and environmental protection. Accordingly, it is necessary for BWSC to maintain and improve the water distribution and sewer systems, to establish and administer a sound billing and collection system that is fair and efficient, and to maintain a strong financial structure.
BWSC was established in 1977 pursuant to a "home rule" petition enacted by the Massachusetts State Legislature as the Boston Water and Sewer Reorganization Act of 1977, Chapter 436 of the Acts of 1977 ("the Enabling Act"), on July 18, 1977. In accordance with the Enabling Act, ownership of the wastewater collection and stormwater drainage system and the water distribution system was transferred from the City of Boston's Department of Public Works (DPW) to BWSC in August of 1977. The Enabling Act also provides for the establishment of a three-member Board of Commissioners.
BWSC is required by the Enabling Act to develop a three-year Capital Improvement Program (CIP) annually. In keeping with this mandate BWSC has substantially rehabilitated and improved the systems.
BWSC is overseen by a three member Board of Commissioners appointed by the Mayor of Boston, subject to approval by the City Council. The primary responsibility of the Board is to ensure the sound economical and efficient operation and maintenance of the systems and to ensure the highest quality services to the City of Boston. The Board of Commissioners is also responsible for setting clear financial and operational policy directives.
BWSC consists of four divisions: Executive, Engineering, Administration and Finance. Click to view the Commission's Organizational Chart.
The Executive Division provides executive management, including policy formation and strategic planning. The Executive Division also represents BWSC in all legislative-lobbying efforts pertaining to securing continued federal and state funded rate relief. This Division is also responsible for implementing and monitoring BWSC’s affirmative action plans and ensuring the participation of women and minority owned businesses in obtaining goods and services contracts. Additional responsibilities of the Executive Division include representing the BWSC in all litigation, overseeing and directing labor relations and management information systems.
The Engineering Division ensures the ongoing maintenance and emergency repairs to BWSC’s water and sewer mains, service connections, hydrants and drains. The Engineering Division is also responsible for inventory control and the management and maintenance of BWSC's automotive fleet. This is done by effectively planning, designing, managing and providing contract compliance for the construction of BWSC’s capital projects. The Engineering Division also coordinates special programs related to leak detection, water conservation and water quality.
The Administration Division provides support functions for BWSC and its customers with administrative support services. The Administration Division provides its employees with proactive personnel services and handles the management and maintenance of BWSC’s facilities and support services. This Division is also responsible for maintaining collections and customer services. Management of BWSC activities as well as the reporting of public information is also handled by this Division. A major responsibility of this Division is the installation, repair and accurate reading of water meters throughout the City of Boston.
The Finance Division is responsible for the establishment of policies to provide maintenance of a strong financial structure designed to provide the lowest possible cost of water, wastewater and storm drainage services, establish a billing methodology that is fair and equitable to all rate payers, advance security for the Commission’s bond holders, design and implement and internal control structure intended to provide reasonable security for the safeguard of Commission’s assets.
BWSC owns and operates a system for the distribution of potable water to customers throughout the City of Boston. The BWSC purchases treated water from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA).
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) is the wholesale provider of water and sewer services to 61 communities in the metropolitan Boston area. The BWSC is the MWRA's largest single customer for both water and sewer services, and MWRA charges represent the largest single component of BWSC's operating expenses.