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In 1795, Jamaica Pond became Boston’s first surface water supply. Wooden pipes built from tree trunks were used to transport water from the pond to Boston’s settled areas.

Reserved Channel

Reserved channel at L Street


The Boston Water and Sewer Commission’s (BWSC) Reserved Channel Sewer Separation Project involves separating the combined sewer system in the Reserved Channel area of South Boston. The purpose of this federal court ordered project is to reduce pollution levels in Boston Harbor by substantially decreasing the number and volume of Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs) into the Reserved Channel and Boston Harbor. The separation project is being undertaken by the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (the Commission) on behalf of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). The project was included in the MWRA’s 2004 Supplemental Facilities Plan and Environmental Impact Report on the Long-Term CSO Control Plan for North Dorchester Bay and Reserved Channel.

Combined sewers are found in many older cities and carry both sanitary sewage and stormwater in the same pipe. During dry weather, sanitary flows are conveyed to interceptor sewers which transport the sewage flows to a wastewater treatment facility. During wet weather, the stormwater gradually takes up the greater portion of the space in the pipe and, depending upon the duration and intensity of the storm, may exceed the capacity of the combined sewer system. The excess combined flows are transported to overflow conduits that discharge into a local body of water, in this case Reserved Channel and Boston Harbor. The resulting discharge of both sanitary sewage and stormwater flows from these overflow pipes is known as a CSO (combined sewer overflow).

The existing overflow conduits in the Reserved Channel area currently discharge CSOs into the Reserved Channel at outfalls BOS 076, BOS 078, BOS 079 and BOS 080. This sewer separation project will replace the existing single combined system with two separate systems – one for sanitary sewage and one for stormwater. When construction is complete, sanitary sewage will be conveyed to the MWRA’s Deer Island Wastewater Treatment Plant, while stormwater will be discharged directly into the Reserved Channel.* This separation work will result in a substantial reduction in CSOs, significantly minimizing further risk of pollution.

*Only when a major storm causes the sewerage system to become surcharged will flows be discharged into the Reserved Channel.

Project Area

The Reserved Channel Sewer Separation Project encompasses an area roughly delineated by the Reserved Channel/Fargo Street to the north, Farragut Road to the east, East Fourth Street/West Broadway to the south and B Street/C Street near the Haul Road to the west. Land use in the project area is characterized by residential neighborhoods; light industrial and large commercial buildings and complexes; small business and retail districts; civic, cultural and educational facilities; and transportation related sites.

Scope of Work

Sewer Separation

Design Phase will involve:

  • Field investigations, including surveys of streets and adjacent areas, television inspection of sewers and outfalls, subsurface geotechnical investigation, inspection of manholes and subsurface investigation of utilities by vacuum excavation
  • Inspection of residential and non-residential buildings for locations of downspouts and building laterals
  • Coordination with abutters and public/private agencies, organizations and utilities
  • Preparation of final permits and construction contract plans and specifications

Construction Phase will involve:

  • Installation of approximately 42,650 linear feet of new storm drains and the rehabilitation/relay of 11,550 linear feet of existing sanitary sewers and 28,100 linear feet of water mains in approximately 37 streets
  • Disconnection of residential and non-residential building downspouts and laterals, including catch basins and area drains
  • Rehabilitation of existing outfalls and structures and replacement of tidegates
  • Restoration of all roadways, curbing, sidewalks and other areas impacted by construction

Building Downspout Disconnections

In addition to separating combined sewers in the street, this project will disconnect as many individual building downspouts and laterals from sewers, as is cost effective. Building laterals are pipes that connect a building’s internal plumbing to pipes in the street. Many older buildings in the South Boston area have an internal pipe that collects stormwater from the roof and discharges it into the building sewer lateral. Downspouts also collect stormwater from the roof in pipes that run down the sides of buildings. In some cases, these downspouts discharge into the sewer, rather than splashing to the ground. Since the purpose of this project is to remove as much stormwater from the sewer system as possible, these building downspouts will be disconnected, where feasible. This work will be coordinated individually with building owners, as necessary.

Overall Schedule

Eight construction contracts (four pipe installation, one building disconnection, one outfall restoration, one sewer cleaning and lining and two paving restoration) will be designed, advertised for bids, awarded and then constructed. The project will be completed in the following phases:

Preliminary Design Phase – August 2006 to February 2008. During this phase, the scope and limits of work for the project area were established.

Final Design Phase – March 2008 through December 2012. During this phase, the eight construction contracts will be prepared, advertised, bid and awarded to the lowest responsible bidder.

Construction Phase – July 2009 through December 2015. During this phase, construction of the eight contracts will be phased, with construction contracts lasting approximately 18 to 24 months. Permanent pavement restoration work will follow each construction contract.

Completed Contracts

Contract 1 (Outfalls Restoration)

Construction began in November 2010 and was completed in December 2011. The work included restoration of four outfalls – 076 on Pappas Way, 078 on East First Street, 079 on Summer Street and 080 at Conley Terminal – which included tidegate and culvert installation.

Contract 2 (080 Area Sewer Separation)

Construction began in May 2009 and was completed in October 2010. Construction took place in streets generally bounded by East First Street, East Fourth Street, M Street and Farragut Road.

Contract 3A (076 Area Sewer Separation)

Construction began in December 2010 and was completed in September 2012. Construction took place in streets generally bounded by E Street, Dorchester Street, West Broadway and West First Street.

Contract 7 (Paving #1)

Construction began in November 2010 and was completed in April 2012. Paving was restored on streets impacted by Contracts 2, 3A and 3B construction.

Current Contracts

Contract 3B (078E/079 Area Sewer Separation)

04/2011 to 10/2014, D’Allessandro Corporation, Avon, MA. Construction is taking place in streets in the contract area generally bounded by East First Street, East Third Street, G Street and M Street.

Contract 4 (078S/076 Area Sewer Separation)

09/2012 to 06/2015, RJV Construction Corporation, Canton, MA. Construction is taking place in streets in the contract area generally bounded by East Third Street, East Fourth Street, N Street and G Street, including portions of West First Street, West Second Street, C Street, Cypher Street, E Street & Fargo Street.

Contract 5 (Sewer Clean/Line)

05/2014 to 04/2015, Umbro & Sons Construction Corporation, Boston, MA. Construction is taking place on streets in Contract 2, 3A, 3B, and 4 areas. Scope of work is generally cleaning and lining of existing sewers and storm drains.

Contract 6 (Downspout Disconnection)

04/2014 to 12/2014, C. Naughton Corporation, Bridgewater, MA. Scope of work includes disconnection of downspouts and roof drains from the combined sewers.

Contract 8 (Paving #2)

04/2012 to 11/2015, Mario Susi & Sons, Dorchester, MA. Paving is being restored on streets impacted by Contracts 3A, 3B, 4, and 5 construction.

Project Coordination and Construction Activity

The Commission is committed to working closely with the Mayor’s Office; elected officials; Boston Public Works Department (BPWD), Boston Transportation Department (BTD) and other City departments; Massachusetts Port Authority, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority and Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority; public and private utility companies; state and federal regulatory agencies; and, most importantly, with abutters to ensure the project is successfully completed. Extensive coordination with National Grid will be required because gas main relocations or replacements will be necessary. In addition, the MWRA will be installing a force main in East Broadway and N Street. Effective coordination will also help mitigate many short-term construction related impacts that may be associated with the project.

The Commission will adhere to all city and state regulations and ordinances governing construction in public roadways. All dust, debris and excavate will be strictly controlled and monitored.


In an effort to streamline and expedite all temporary and permanent roadway resurfacing, the Commission will complete pavement restoration work as part of this project in accordance with the requirements of the BPWD. Similarly, sidewalks and private property impacted by construction will be restored under this project.

Community Relations Program

The Commission is committed to a proactive community relations program during both the design and construction phases of this project. The program is designed to keep residents, businesses and elected officials informed about the project by holding public meetings, placing notices in local newspapers and posting updates on the project webpage. Prior to the start of construction, public meetings will be held to introduce the contractor and provide specific information and anticipated schedules for upcoming work. In addition, before construction begins on a street, a notice will be sent in the mail announcing the work to be performed on the street. Project staff will meet periodically with residents, businesses, civic groups, educational and cultural institutions and elected officials to provide updates, as requested or appropriate. Commission staff will work closely with affected neighborhoods regarding issues such as pedestrian and vehicular traffic management, access to residences and business establishments, maintaining access for deliveries and trash and snow removal, and issues specific to traffic entering and exiting Conley Terminal.

BWSC and MWRA Agreement and Costs

The Reserved Channel Sewer Separation Project is mandated by a federal court order as part of the Boston Harbor Project. Because BWSC has extensive experience in managing sewer separation projects and is well equipped to complete these projects, MWRA asked BWSC to implement the separation project.

Under the provisions of the agreement between MWRA and BWSC, MWRA will be responsible for eligible construction costs. The remainder will be funded by BWSC through its Capital Improvement Program (CIP) for additional water and sewer system improvements being completed concurrently with this project.


For further information on the project or to be added to the mailing list, please contact:

Boston Water and Sewer Commission - 617-989-7000

Irene McSweeney, Director of Construction

Edward Duggan, Senior Design Engineer

Sean Canty, Intergovernmental Relations Manager

If you have questions or concerns about construction, please contact:

Project Field Office:

James Donovan, Senior Engineer

Hisham Saffarini, Senior Field Engineer

Fay, Spofford & Thorndike

840 Summer Street, South Boston 617-268-2046

In an emergency, contact BWSC's 24-hour, 7-day a week number at 617-989-7000.