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The effect of the new Massachusetts Bay sewage outfall on the concentrations of metals and bacterial spores in nearby bottom and suspended sediments

January 1, 2002

Since the new outfall for Boston's treated sewage effluent began operation on September 6, 2000, no change has been observed in concentrations of silver or Clostridium perfringens spores (an ecologically benign tracer of sewage), in bottom sediments at a site 2.5 km west of the outfall. In suspended sediment samples collected with a time-series sediment trap located 1.3 km south of the outfall, silver and C. perfringens spores increased by 38% and 103%, respectively, in post-outfall samples while chromium, copper, and zinc showed no change. All metal concentrations in sediments are <50% of warning levels established by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. An 11-year data set of bottom sediment characteristics collected three times per year prior to outfall startup provides perspective for the interpretation of post-outfall data. A greater than twofold increase in concentrations of sewage tracers (silver and C. perfringens) was observed in muddy sediments following the exceptional storm of December 11-16, 1992 that presumably moved contaminated inshore sediment offshore. ?? 2002 Elsevier Science Ltd. All rights reserved.