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Wastewater Pollution Prevention


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Stormwater Pollution Prevention


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What Can We Do?

Clean Water at Home

No matter where we live in Boston, we could all learn how to save water! The water that comes into our homes is the "Best of the Best"! In 2014, Boston won the American Water Works Association tenth annual national tap water tasting contest. So drink up Boston!

Let's check the pipes for leaks and fix them. We also can be very careful about how and when we use water outside our homes-in gardens and on lawns. Also, getting our water tested for lead is a great idea because we used to use lead pipes to transport our water.

Did you know that there are people who steal water? When someone steals water, Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) cannot always keep our promises to provide high quality water and sewer services at the lowest possible cost to our customers.

What We Can Do?

We can put in a new low-flow toilet that can help us use 25% less water. The new toilets use only 1.5 gallons for each flush. So think about replacing an old toilet with a new low-flow. And let's remember to fix those leaky faucets and showerheads.

The toilet is the single biggest water user in our homes. Flushing a regular toilet uses 5 to 7 gallons per flush, which accounts for more than one-third, of the water used in our homes each day. The new low-flow toilets, which are now required per the building code, use only 1.5 gallons per flush.

A faucet or showerhead that drips just two tablespoons per minute can waste 15 gallons per day, which is 105 gallons per week or 5,460 gallons per year! So remember to fix those leaky faucets or showerheads.

Faucet aerators that mix air with tap water can reduce the flow to 1.5 to 2.5 gallons per minute. Without the aerators, the faucet uses 3 to 7 gallons per minute. Installing a faucet aerator is a simple procedure that can reduce your water usage.

Some showerheads may still use 3 to 7 gallons or more per minute. If you have not installed a showerhead which uses 1.5 gallons or less, you are missing an excellent way to save water and energy without sacrificing the benefits of a satisfying shower.

  • Check under sinks, behind washing machines and around basement plumbing for suspicious looking wet areas. Leaks not only waste water, they could be damaging walls, floors and ceilings.
  • Use dishwashers and washing machines for full loads only.
  • Shut the water off when brushing your teeth, shaving or doing dishes! This can waste gallons of water!
  • Take shorter showers and don't fill the bathtub to the top when bathing.
  • Keep a jug of drinking water in the refrigerator to avoid running water until it is cold enough to drink.
  • When we eat out, let's say no thanks to the glass of water if we won't drink it.

Outside of our Homes

Outside our homes, if we water our lawn when it's windy, water will go everywhere except the lawn. Let's check our sprinkler to make sure it is aimed at the lawn and not the street or sidewalk. Use a trigger nozzle on hoses so that when you do not use the hose, the water will be turned off.

  • A good way to find out if it's time to water your lawn is to step on it. If it springs back up, no watering is needed. If it remains flat, it is time to water. The best time to water lawns is early morning (4 to 6 AM.) Watering in the middle of the day will mean the water may not soak in and could kill the grass.
  • Don't water when it is windy. Water will go everywhere except on the lawn.
  • Make sure that the sprinkler is aimed at the lawn and not the street or sidewalk.
  • Use a trigger nozzle on outside hoses. When you are not using the hose, the water will be turned off.
  • The blades on your lawn mower should be set to 2-3 inches or more. Longer grass keeps more moisture because it shades the roots. Longer grass also helps roots grow deeper, needs less fertilizer and competes better against weeds.
  • Aeration or poking holes in the lawn helps water soak in and stay in the soil. This should be done in the spring and fall.
  • Mulch helps water remain in the soil and cuts down on weeds that could compete with plants for moisture.
  • Shrubs, flowers and vegetables that need lots of moisture should be planted near each other to save water. ALSO, plan gardens and plantings based on where areas are hot/sunny, cool/shady, moist, dry, etc. For example, if you have a hot, dry zone, choose plants that can last in hot, dry conditions.
  • There are many kinds of low water-use plants that can withstand dry summers and grow well in drier soil. Check out the Massachusetts Horticulture website at for more information.
  • Use a drip irrigation system or soaker hose in gardens that need the most water: vegetables, fruits, newly planted trees and shrubs, and some flower gardens. A soaker hose is a canvas or rubber hose with small holes in it. It works best when it lies on top or slightly below soil level and mulch is placed over the soil and hose. You can insert the hose in the spring and leave it in place all season. Drip irrigation can use 30%-70% less water than overhead sprinkler systems. In general, use the drip irrigation or soaker hose methods until the soil is moist 3-4 inches below the surface.
  • Place rain barrels or other large containers under downspouts to collect rain water to use for watering your garden. Use a lid, mesh fabric, or several drops of baby oil on the surface of the water to prevent mosquito breeding.

For more outdoor water conservation tips, see the MWRA's brochure.

Lead in Our Drinking Water

Lead can be a risk to our health if too much of it enters the body. There are steps we can take in our homes to reduce our risk. BWSC has a program to continue the replacement of lead service connections in its system.

The water from Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) is lead-free when it leaves the reservoirs. MWRA and local BWSC pipes that carry water are made mostly of iron and steel, and so they do not add lead to water. But, lead can get into tap water through pipes going into the home. The material used to connect pieces of plumbing and some brass fixtures may have lead in them. When pipes wear away, these materials can add lead into tap water. This can happen if water sits for a long time in the pipes before we use it.

Find out if you need to take action in a building and have the drinking water tested to find out if it has too much lead. Testing the water is important because you cannot see, taste, or smell lead in drinking water.

Visit the MWRA for a list of state certified laboratories that can test your drinking water for lead or call BWSC's Lead Hotline at (617) 989-7888.

Stop Water Theft

When someone steals water by breaking or changing the water meter connections, it costs BWSC thousands of dollars a year. It also makes everyone pay more for our great tasting water. Stealing water is serious and can mean people who steal water will have to pay a fine and may have to go to civil or even criminal court.

Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) promises to provide high quality water and sewer services at the lowest possible cost to our customers. When someone steals water, the BWSC cannot keep this promise all the time.

Remember: We all pay when someone steals water. Learn more Water Theft

Preventing Frozen Pipes

New England winters can be brutal on water pipes. As water freezes, it expands and can put pressure on the pipes, causing them to burst. Be prepared to protect your home or business from the effects of freezing temperatures.

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