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Stormwater Management Initiatives Help Reduce Flooding and Sewer Overflow

Thursday, May 19, 2022
Twenty-five years of major investment in sewer and stormwater infrastructure and maintenance has significantly improved the quality of water discharged to the Charles River, the Little River, the Alewife Brook, the Mystic River, and the Boston Harbor. The amount of combined sewer overflows have decreased to the Charles River (by 98%) and Alewife Brook (by 85%) during a typical year. Investment in infrastructure provides a more reliable system that better serves residents, who experience fewer backups, reduced flooding, and less emergency repairs.

As part of a long-term strategy to reduce flooding, the City has constructed 12 underground stormwater storage systems over the last 20 years on Hovey Avenue, Scott Street, Wendell Street, Broadway (Main Library), Museum Street, Danehy Park, New Street, Francis Avenue, and Parking Lot 6 in The Port. Collectively, these facilities can hold over two million gallons of stormwater. The value of this infrastructure was demonstrated last summer when the city had over nine inches of rain, making it the second wettest period since 1921. These storage systems operated as expected, holding stormwater during the heavy rain events and directly reducing flooding in Cambridge neighborhoods. The Port tank and pump station alone stored approximately 400,000 gallons of stormwater. Prior to the installation of the stormwater systems, such heavy rain would have caused significant flooding in The Port, Agassiz, and Mid-Cambridge neighborhoods.

Appropriations totaling $25 million will support the construction of a 1.2 million gallon stormwater holding system and a 100,000-gallon rain garden in conjunction with the Tobin Montessori and Vassal Lane Upper Schools construction. This infrastructure will reduce flooding on Concord Avenue and in the Vassal Lane / Standish Street area and was identified in the Alewife Preparedness Plan as key to improving the resiliency of the Alewife neighborhood to climate change. Learn more at Cambridgema.gov/stormwater.
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