Officials urge public to avoid contact with Boston Harbor water following sewage discharge

The overflow came amid a strong storm Wednesday night.

Boston public health officials on Thursday issued a public health warning advising residents to avoid contact with water in Boston Harbor after a sewage discharge was detected amid a fierce storm Wednesday night.

According to the Boston Public Health Commission, a Massachusetts Water Resources Authority outflow pipe located in the Upper Inner Harbor, upstream of the North Washington Street Bridge, released a treated sewage discharge or overflow around 8:20 p.m. Wednesday night.

The overflow, which may pose a public health risk and could “potentially affect waters in Boston Inner Harbor,” ended at 10:30 p.m., officials said.

“The public is advised to avoid contact with affected water bodies for at least 48 hours after a sewage discharge or overflow, during rainstorms, and for 48 hours after rainstorms end, due to increased health risks from bacteria or other pollutants associated with urban stormwater runoff and discharges of untreated or partially treated wastewater,” a statement from the BPHC reads.


Sewer overflows happen “when a large storm overwhelms the combined sewerage system causing rainwater to mix with wastewater and discharge to a nearby water body,” officials said.

“This prevents sewage backups into homes and businesses,” the BPHC said.

Strong winds and heavy downpours overtook Boston skies Wednesday night.

According to the BPHC, updates on the public health warning will be posted on the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority’s website.

Sewage warning poster
– Boston Public Health Commission


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