The Lowell Regional Wastewater Utility (LRWWU) operates an ISO 14001-certified wastewater system that is designed to transport, treat, and dispose wastewater, stormwater, and domestic septage from the City of Lowell and the surrounding towns of Chelmsford, Dracut, Tewksbury, and Tyngsborough.
A large network of underground sewer pipes, which range in diameter from 6 inches to 10 feet, conveys wastewater from the City of Lowell and the towns of Chelmsford, Dracut, Tewksbury and Tyngsborough to the Duck Island Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). Flows from these surrounding towns generate revenue for LRWWU, as these flows are measured monthly from metering stations located on city-town lines.
A separate network of drainage pipes conveys stormwater directly to local waterways – including Beaver Brook, River Meadow Brook, the Concord River, and the Merrimack River. Approximately one-third of the City of Lowell’s acreage is served by separate sewerage and drainage pipes; the other two-thirds are served by a combined sewer system that transports both stormwater and wastewater to the Duck Island WWTF.
The Duck Island WWTF treats an average of 25 Million Gallons per Day (MGD), and discharges the effluent (treated wastewater) into the Merrimack River. Flow rates to the WWTF can increase fourfold to 100 MGD of combined sewage and stormwater following a rainfall event. These high flow rates to Lowell’s combined sewer systems are being increasingly relieved by the ongoing construction of drainage pipes throughout the city, which will eventually eliminate combined sewer overflows (CSO’s) and thus keep local waterways pollutant-free.
Newer, more stringent environmental regulations that are issued by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) often exceed the original design intent of LRWWU’s collection and treatment systems. This creates a persistent challenge for Executive Director Mark Young and his staff of 48 employees to comply with these regulations while continuing to provide essential stormwater/wastewater services for the nearly 200,000 people within the Greater Lowell area.
Lowell’s aging sewer infrastructure presents another challenge for the LRWWU; nearly 50% of the sewer lines are more than 100 years old, meaning many of these pipes are structurally impaired. LRWWU inspects the city’s sewer pipes and rehabs (or replaces, if needed) any deficient pipe to maintain adequate collection system performance and eliminate sanitary sewer overflows (SSO’s).
Many local industries discharge their wastewater to the Duck Island WWTF. Industrial wastewaters are more complex than domestic wastewater in terms of their chemical makeup, making them difficult to treat via conventional treatment processes. LRWWU manages these industrial discharges accordingly, so that the WWTF doesn’t receive wastewaters that it’s incapable of treating.
LRWWU consistently makes use of the newest technologies to produce the cleanest wastewater effluent possible within its budget. SCADA (Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition), a system which allows operators to make process control decisions and monitor remote stations, is an example of a recent technological upgrade that has been implemented into the Duck Island WWTF with great success.
Please check out the rest of this website, where you can learn more about LRWWU and its services, as well as stormwater / wastewater transport and treatment in general. Contact information is provided so that you can connect with Mark Young or his staff members. Please share your thoughts and comments; your input is welcome!