Water distribution in Boston dates back to the time of Early Settlers when private suppliers could deliver water through wooden pipes from Jamaica Pond. Earlier, the natives were using water from spring, rain barrels, and local wells. Pollution became common in the Jamaican Pond. Equally, the capacity could not serve the then population.
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The rapid increase in population made city planners in 1848 to acquire municipal water from Lake Cochituate, which is in the western part of Boston. This water could flow through the Cochituate aqueduct to the Brookline Reservoir. Lake Cochituate became the major water supplying point to the Boston residents and visitors. In 1870, the Mystic Lake System was inculcated in the water system.
By 1900, the water supply could not completely meet the needs of the tripled population of 550, 000 (Water History.). Also, the quality had tremendously gone down prompting the need to abandon the Cochituate Reservoir and Aqueduct. This situation prompted the formation of the Metropolitan Water District (MWD), which was mandated with identifying other sources of water for the city residents.
In 1908, city planners completed constructing Wachusett Dam, Reservoir and Aqueduct that was supplemented with Quabbin Reservoir, which was impounded from Swift River. This initiative was to help in meeting future growth. Later in 1970, the demand for water rose past the supply.
Moreover, much of the water could not reach the city due to pipe leakages. This saw the formation of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC), which had to update and repair the water system.
Notably, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) was mandated with controlling and operating the water and sewerage divisions in Boston. Currently, Boston purchases its water from the MWRA to serve tourists, students, shops, commuting workers, and hospital patients (Water History.).
By 2001, it was estimated that one Boston resident uses close to 101.3 gallons of water both outdoor and indoor every day. Likewise, in 2007, the Quabbin and the Wachusett Reservoirs supplied close to 214 millions of gallons per day (mgd) to consumers. This amount translates to around 78.11 billions of gallons per annum. Notably, there was massive water usage in the 1980s; for instance, the usage hit 474.9 million cubic meters per annum.
Conservation efforts reduced this usage amount to 268.5 million cubic meters per annum (Water History.). Water treatment is done at the MWRA’s John J. Carroll Water Treatment Plant at Walnut Hill. This process involves adjusting the pH of the water using sodium bicarbonate, which is a basic substance, removal of ozone, and mixing with fluorides and chloramines. These processes lower the acidic level and kill germs that could be in the water.
After treatment, water goes to the storage tanks that are well covered via the Metrowest Water Supply Tunnel. Some of the storage tanks include the Loring Road Tanks and Norumbega Reservoir. At this point, water is ready for consumption; therefore, MWRA delivers the water to BWSC networks, which has 29 metered destinations (Water History.).
There has been continuous improvement in the Boston water system; for example, there have been replacements of valves and maintenance of hydrants to ensure that water of high quality reaches the consumers at sufficient pressure. This water can be used for consumption and fire protection. The constant rehabilitation process makes it possible for water to acquire enough pressure to reach the final destinations.
BWSC and MWRA water supply in Boston have confirmed to the Environmental Protection Agency’s strict regulations of the provision of quality water to consumers. BWSC has also been ensuring high quality of water by the main flushing. The main flushing does not only remove particles that could be in the water but also eliminate discolored water.
BWSC used standard pipes made of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) and class 56 ductile iron for constructing sewer connections. Moreover, the PVCs standards match the ASTM specifications.
The pipes have a minimum size of 6 inches and a maximum of 15 inches for D3034 type, 18 inches and more for F679. The ratio of their diameter to their wall thickness should be a maximum of 35 (Water History.). Copper type K is meant to be used in situations where water services up to 2 inches.
On the other hand, ductile iron is to be applied in scenarios where water services up to 4 inches and more. Pipes are divided into the sewer and drain pipes, fittings, ductile iron pipes, and service pipes. All these specifications must be adhered to during construction.
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Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) have specific fire hydrant points within their distribution system, and even issues hydrant permits at a fee. The meters are meant for construction purposes only. For example, 90 days attracts a rental levy of $50 with additional charges on water usage. The permit also attracts a down payment of $750. In case the 90 days expire, one can renew the permit at a new fee of the same rate (Water History.).
This initiative allows fire-fighters to use the Boston water in extinguishing fires. The piping layout uses a horizontal orientation to reduce pressure backflow. Lastly, BWSC must approve the piping layout/diagrams before the commencement of mechanical work, and no alteration can be done without the BWSC’s permission.
Water History. About Boston Water and Sewer Commission. BWSC, n.d. Web.