The Duck Island Clean Water Facility treats wastewater from approximately 135,000 homes and businesses in Lowell and the surrounding towns of Chelmsford, Dracut, Tewksbury, and Tyngsborough. More than 274 miles of pipe and 11 pump stations safely transport waste and stormwater to the facility. After treatment, the system returns cleaned water to the Merrimack River.
On a dry day, the flow into the facility is composed almost entirely of wastewater that undergoes biological treatment. During storm events, our combined sewer system collects stormwater that will sometimes undergo an alternative high-flow treatment process. Continuous improvement of this system is the focus of our high flow management program and the progress we’ve managed to achieve has been recognized throughout the industry.
We also manage stormwater using a separate network of 61 miles of pipes and nearly 400 outfalls. Recent projects have included a green infrastructure community installation designed to capture rainfall and return it to the ground through infiltration. We also review stormwater permits for new construction in Lowell.
During exceptionally large storm events, the Merrimack can experience storm surges and threaten the safety of area residents. To mitigate this danger, we maintain and operate a flood damage control system composed of levees and the West Street pump station.
We continuously collect and analyze large amounts of data about our collection and treatment system performance, and water-quality parameters important to understanding the health of the Merrimack River – the knowledge we gain helps us to be rigorous stewards of public funds as well as of public health and the environment. Through the Clean Stream Initiative, we coordinate and collaborate with local organizations like the Clean River Project and the Merrimack River Watershed Council to improve our understanding of the river’s health.