Before 1795, Boston residents obtained their water from local wells, rain barrels, and a spring on the Boston Common.
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, BWSCís 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.
The Boston Water and Sewer Commission 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 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.
The Commission consists of five divisions: Executive, Operations, Engineering, Administration and Finance. Click to view the Commission's Organizational Chart.
The Executive Division provides executive management, including policy formation and strategic planning, to the entire Commission. The Executive Division also represents the Commission in all legislative-lobbying efforts pertaining to securing continued federal and state funded rate relief. This Division is also responsible for implementing and monitoring the Commissionís affirmative action plans and ensuring the participation of women and minority owned businesses in obtaining goods and services contracts and safety management to the entire Commission. Additional responsibilities include representing the Commission in all litigation, and the overseeing of the entire Commission. The Human Resources department is now part of the Executive Division and provides its employees with proactive personnel services.
The Operations Division ensures the ongoing maintenance and emergency repairs to the Commissionís water and sewer mains, service connections, hydrants and drains. The Division is also responsible for inventory control, management, and maintenance of the Commissionís automotive fleet for the entire Commission.
The Engineering Division is responsible for high quality, reliable water and sewer and drainage services. This is achieved by effectively planning, designing, managing and providing contract compliance for the construction of the Commissionís Capital Improvement Projects.
The Administration Division provides the Commission and its customers with administrative support services. This Division is responsible for representing the Commission at various public and community meetings, maintaining collections, customer services and the installation and repair of meters, and the provision of facilities and support services. The Information Technology (ďITĒ) department is now part of the Administration Division and is responsible for the preservation of the Commissionís technical infrastructure.
The Finance Division provides effective management of the Commissionís revenues and all its resources. The Finance Division accomplishes this through its financial budgeting, rate setting, accounting and cash management, billing and adjustments. This Division is also responsible for debt financing, investment management, providing procurement, investigating, documenting and resolving meter problems and erratic consumption.
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.