Raw Sewage Continues to Foul Merrimack River

Newburyport News: Nearly 400 million gallons of raw or partially treated sewage spewed into the Merrimack River last year from aging pipes that were supposed to be sealed up years ago under a federal order.

The sewage came from about 50 overflow pipes from combined sewer systems along the river. Designed long before the Clean Water Act was written into law in the early 1970s, the systems collect stormwater in the same pipes as sewage and are designed to overflow when a treatment plant is inundated, usually because of heavy rain.

Last year, 5 treatment plants along the 117-mile Merrimack River reported 439 discharges, adding up to nearly 400 million gallons of sewage, according to data compiled by environmental regulators in Massachusetts and New Hampshire and released after public records requests.

Read more about the raw sewage that fouls the Merrimack River.