December 8, 2017

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Boston Water and Sewer Commission Receives National Award for Geosyntec-Led Study

The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) recently announced that a project conducted by Geosyntec for the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) was awarded their 2018 National Environmental Achievement Award (NEAA) and will be presented at NACWA's Winter Conference in Napa, California in February 2018.

The project, entitled "Utilizing DNA Markers for Identification of Human and Non-Human Fecal Sources in Urban Stormwater," received the Operations & Environmental Performance Award. The award is presented to member agencies for outstanding initiatives in wastewater treatment, wastewater conveyance, stormwater management, and/or environmental enhancement. The award recognizes an innovative and effective project, system or method relating to wastewater treatment plant or collection system operations developed and successfully implemented by an NACWA member in a cost-effective manner while achieving environmental compliance objectives.

BWSC continues to implement one of New England's most rigorous Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination (IDDE) programs throughout their Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4). As an additional proactive measure, BWSC retained Geosyntec to determine whether and where bacteria in their MS4 outfalls and interconnections are due to human versus non-human sources and evaluate ongoing IDDE program efficiency.

Geosyntec's approach involved the use of chemical and DNA-based markers that reflect the state of the science for microbial source tracking (MST), an area of our demonstrated nationwide leadership in applied research. We developed a hypothesis-driven study that assesses bacteria and nutrient sources to and within BWSC's sewer system, spatial/temporal patterns of these pollutants, and the reliability of conventional and EPA-recommended IDDE indicators. Building off our nationwide experience with MST study design, implementation, and interpretation, we also incorporated the latest and most proven analytical tools such as droplet digital quantitative PCR for human and non-human DNA markers, as well as other novel but exploratory tools such as community DNA analysis using a lab at the University of New Hampshire.

BWSC will benefit from the study results through increased efficiency and effectiveness of their IDDE program, improving water quality protection and supporting compliance with MS4 permit and Consent Decree requirements. An additional key benefit is identification of more cost-effective nutrient and bacteria control strategies for meeting TMDL requirements. Furthermore, other MS4 permittees are also expected to benefit from the recommended IDDE program improvements, which represent a significant step forward in advancing the state of the practice nationwide.

The project demonstrates BWSC's leadership in applying advanced solutions to water quality problems and their commitment to recreational beneficial use protection.

NACWA has been the nation's recognized leader for over 40 years in legislative, regulatory, and legal advocacy on the full spectrum of clean water issues, as well as a top technical resource for water management, sustainability, and ecosystem protection interests. They represent public wastewater and stormwater agencies of all sizes nationwide. The NEAA Program recognizes individuals and NACWA member agencies that have made outstanding contributions to environmental protection and the clean water community.

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For information about the project, contact Brandon Steets at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or Andrea Braga at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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