Mass. Bill Allows Dumping Of Treated Wastewater Into Ocean

Environmentalists say a bill making its way through the Massachusetts legislature could put the quality of state ocean water at risk.

A water infrastructure bill recently passed the state senate with little fanfare. But environmentalists say that tucked into the bill is a provision that rolls back protections for ocean sanctuaries that have been in place for four decades.

The bill would allow the dumping of treated wastewater into state ocean waters, a practice that has been banned.

“Massachusetts state waters are under a lot of stress,” says Jack Clark of Mass Audubon. “There’s lots of pollution, we’re making great strides in cleaning up waters and estuaries and it may be a step backward to allow treated wastewater back into the oceans.”

And even though the water would have to got through an advanced treatment process, Clarke says it still contains a level of sludge.

The problem is – there may be no where else for the waste to go. Towns on Cape Cod, in particular, can’t dump it in the ground, because the ground water is used for drinking. And they’re surrounded by ocean sanctuaries.

The bill now goes to the House.