Student Work

Supporting implementation of a new state law requiring public notification of combined sewer system overflows


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Massachusetts uses combined sewer systems, which experience overflows due to their structure. Combined sewer overflows (CSOs) are events that occur due to extreme precipitation, causing an overabundance of water. This water is then discharged into Massachusetts water bodies carrying with it sewage, wastewater, and street runoff. Our project goal is to help the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection implement Chapter 322 of Acts 2020, An Act Promoting Awareness of Sewage Pollution in Public Waters. This Act requires that a notification system is implemented to communicate CSO events to the affected residents and parties. Our research focused primarily on environmental justice communities, which are groups of Massachusetts residents that are most affected by CSOs and meet at least one of the specific criteria based on language proficiency, income, and minority status. Our purpose is to recommend the most effective communication platform for notifications, signage templates, and recommend additions for a GIS map of CSOs. To complete our objectives, we created a survey for environmental justice organizations, a questionnaire for the public, and conducted a semi-structured interview with the director of the Massachusetts River Alliance. The data we collected suggests that sewage discharge event signage must be redesigned and there is no one effective alert platform. Notifications should be issued in the most spoken languages in Massachusetts.

  • This report represents the work of one or more WPI undergraduate students submitted to the faculty as evidence of completion of a degree requirement. WPI routinely publishes these reports on its website without editorial or peer review.
  • 38441
  • E-project-101221-140108
  • 2021
UN Sustainable Development Goals
Date created
  • 2021-10-12
Resource type
Rights statement


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