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Health Advisory Lifted at Lake Quinsigamond

For Immediate Release: 2/24/2022 4:19 pm

WORCESTER — City officials today lifted the public health advisory that was in effect at Lake Quinsigamond due to an overflow of wastewater earlier this month.

The city’s Department of Inspectional Services had subsequently been conducting frequent water quality sampling of the lake water, and on Feb. 23 confirmed levels of E. coli to be well below recreational use limits.

Despite about 5.7 million gallons of untreated wastewater being released into the lake, caused by a Feb. 6 malfunctioning of the Lake Avenue Sewer Pumping Station, the city’s Department of Sustainability & Resilience, which helps oversee blue spaces in the city, does not foresee long-term impacts for the health of the lake.

Due to the overall vast volume of water in Lake Quinsigamond and inhospitable conditions for sewage-related bacteria in the cold, deep lake waters, the wastewater overflow quickly dissipated as testing continued to ensure safe conditions return to the lake. Testing was complicated by the presence of large numbers of geese and their droppings behind the pump station and an unrelated sewer blockage on Coburn Avenue that was located and corrected on Feb. 18.

The initial response to the sewer overflow followed procedures identified in a Lake Quinsigamond Sanitary Sewer Overflow Response Plan that was created in 2017 and approved by MassDEP. That agency has been closely monitoring the city’s response, including follow-up on sample collection and assuring strict adherence to the Response Plan protocols.

At the time of the incident, tanker trucks called into assist prevented another 473,500 gallons of overflow.  An emergency bypass pump system has been installed to help prevent similar issues in the future. It will serve as an external backup pump system for use in emergencies or for planned shutdowns needed for maintenance and repairs.

The Lake Avenue Sewer Pumping Station is the city’s largest pump station with a capacity to handle up to 20 million gallons per day. At this time of year, on a dry day, the station pumps about 3 million gallons daily. The station was substantially rebuilt in 2015 to handle higher flows during heavy rains.

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