Two decades ago it was one of the worse beaches in the region but now Constitution Beach in East Boston is one of the most improved beaches and received an A on Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s water quality Beach Report Card.
Save the Harbor/Save the Bay released its annual Beach Report Card on water quality and flagging accuracy on the Boston Harbor Region’s public beaches from Nahant to Nantasket managed by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR).
“Constitution Beach is the most improved beach in the region for a couple of reasons but mostly I think it is because the Boston Water and Sewer has been very diligent in fixing broken pipes and illegal sewer connection so its becoming clear their work is working,” said Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Executive Director Bruce Berman. “Over the past 20 years we’ve seen a dramatic turnaround in East Boston and we’ve seen an improvement trend that is making Constitution Beach a solid A beach.”
In 2013 Constitution Beach scored 97.05 on the Beach Report Card for overall water quality and beach safety. That was up nearly 11 points from 2012 when the beach scored an 88.60. The beach now has a three-year average score of 92.95.
“You have to remember where we were 25 years ago,” explained Berman. “Deer Island treatment facility was in disarray, broken outflow just off the beach were pumping 200 million gallons of raw sewage back into the harbor after heavy storms. The water at Constitution Beach was murky and brown. Now it’s an urban oasis.”
Under the leadership of Senator Anthony Petruccelli, Berman said the BWS was directed to aggressively find and fix broken pipes and illegal hookups that were shutting the beach down one out of every five days a few years back.
“We had old combined outfall hook ups that would mix storm water and sewage together after a big storm and pump it out into the harbor,” said Berman. “But seven or eight years ago those were separated so all the sewage gets treated at Deer Island. Senator Petruccelli then had the BWS redoubled their efforts to find the remaining pipes and illegal hookups that were still causing problems and that is what has led to the good numbers we are seeing today.”
The report card is based on an in-depth analysis of thousands of samples taken by the DCR and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) in 2013. The samples were collected at 34 testing sites on public beaches in Eastie, Nahant, Lynn, Swampscott, Revere, Winthrop, South Boston, Dorchester, Quincy and Hull.
The report card is based on methodology developed by Save the Harbor/Save the Bay’s Beaches Science Advisory Committee (BSAC), Co-Chaired by Dr. Judy Pederson of MIT’s Sea Grant Program and Dr. Jim Shine of the Harvard School of Public Health. Save the Harbor/Save the Bay thanked them and Dr. Andrea Rex and Kelly Coughlin of the MWRA, DCR’s Gary Briere, and SH/SB’s Staff Assistant for water quality Jacqueline Sussman for their help with this report.