Route 79 Project Advisory

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What is the Combined Sewer Overflow Abatement Program?


Fall River’s existing Combined Sewer System collects and transports wastewater from a service area of approximately 90,000 residents and stormwater runoff from approximately 5,000 acres (7.8 square miles). The Collection System Facilities consists of 179-miles of sewer pipeline, 13-pumping stations, 4,500 manholes, 5,000 catch basins and 19 Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Outfalls.

Currently, the 19 CSO Outfalls discharge approximately 1.3-billion gallons of rainwater and sewage to the Mount Hope Bay each year. A Federal Court Order was issued which required the City to implement a CSO Abatement Plan.

The CSO Abatement Program, as currently planned, includes expansion of the Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant primary treatment capacity to 106-million gallons per day (already completed), construction of an 85-million gallon rock tunnel with surface piping and partial sewer separation of selected CSO areas along the waterfront. The CSO tunnel is scheduled for a 2018 construction completion.

The goal of the CSO facility is to help control flooding and sewer system operation while simultaneously transporting water for treatment before it is released into Mount Hope Bay. The CSO tunnel is made up of 3 miles of tunnel, delivering flow by gravity to the Wastewater Treatment Facility. The tunnel has the capacity to store 38-million gallons of water.

Construction of the CSO Abatement Program has been an ongoing project in the City since 1997. Out of the $185 million dollar project, $160 million of the work has been completed.

Major improvements and successes can already be seen, with the CSO tunnel and all nine planned drop shafts (used to transfer flow from street sewers to the connecting tunnels) being operational. Along with this work, the Wastewater Treatment Plant has also received renovations to upgrade its capacity.

Sewer separation construction will be performed in the future, requiring additional work south of I-195 to meet the Federal Court Order. This construction is scheduled for 2015-2019.