Toward a Healthy Harbor

by Thomas C. McMonagle, Engineer; Metcalf & Eddy, Boston, MA,
Robert M. Otoski, Engineer; Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Boston, MA,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1997, Vol. 67, Issue 9, Pg. 46-49

Document Type: Feature article


Once dubbed the filthiest harbor in America, the Boston Harbor is now the model of recovery. The Boston Harbor Project, a court-mandated 12-year, $3.4 billion cleanup, includes a sprawling system of undersea tunnels, treatment facilities and even the world's largest anaerobic sludge digester. Owing to the sheer size of the task, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), set up the Program Management Division to coordinate the various phases of the project. This unified management approach is estimated to have saved the project over $700 million this far. Among the most challenging aspects of the project was building a new primary treatment plant at Deer Island without interrupting water service to over 2 million Boston residents. Two underwater tunnels were constructed to avoid the need for barges to transport sludge and waste from one source to another. The MWRA also employed an undersea diffuser system to release treated wastewater into the ocean.

Subject Headings: Ports and harbors | Project management | Water treatment plants | Water resources | Underwater structures | Tunnels | Sludge

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