The Commission hosted a ribbon-cutting for its newly completed $137M York Street Pump Station and Connecticut River Crossing Project (YSPS) on November 17, 2023. The event also celebrated 30 years of regional collaboration to improve the water quality of the Connecticut River.
Congressman Richard Neal, Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, EPA Region 1 Deputy Administrator Karen McGuire, Chicopee Mayor John Vieau, and Holyoke Mayor Josh Garcia, among others, were in attendance.
The CT River Cleanup Committee (CRCC) formed in 1993 to collaborate on reducing combined sewer overflow (CSO) discharges into the Connecticut River. Since that time, 85 CSOs (63.4%) have been eliminated and flow from remaining CSOs has been reduced by 73.8% in an average year. Holyoke, Chicopee, and the Commission are the current members of the CRCC, which is facilitated by the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC).
The Commission’s YSPS project is the latest addition to these ongoing regional CSO reduction efforts and will reduce CSO discharges into the Connecticut River by approximately 100 million gallons in a typical year. The project also replaces undersized and aging infrastructure, increases climate resiliency, and adds redundancy to ensure service reliability for Commission customers. The project broke ground in 2019 and was financed with a $137,585,000 low-interest loan from the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust State Revolving Fund (SRF). The CRCC helped secure $3,693,000 in state grants for the project since FY16, and the SRF also provided $5,639,795 in loan forgiveness. The public is invited to an Open House at the York Street Pump Station this afternoon (11/17) from 2-5 PM. (More information at waterandsewer.org/open-house.)
Prior to the ribbon-cutting, the state delegations representing Chicopee, Holyoke, and Springfield were invited to learn about the progress of the ongoing clean-up of the Connecticut River and discuss upcoming projects and potential funding sources. Though CSO remediation is recognized as a regional issue, funding for CSO projects is still largely provided by local ratepayers, and only supplemented by Federal earmarks and state funding when available. Since 2018, the state has awarded $11,453,000 in grants to the three members of CRCC. CSO work under way includes the $23 million South Fairview Sewer Separation Project in Chicopee and the $14 million River Terrace Sewer Separation Project in Holyoke.
“I am proud to stand before the newly completed York Street Pump Station, which is a cornerstone project of the Commission’s 30 years of CSO remediation efforts as well as our more recent infrastructure renewal program,” said Commission Chairwoman Vanessa Otero. “This project will provide lasting results in terms of increased service reliability and more resilient infrastructure for our customers. It also represents our commitment to deliver projects that maximize ratepayer dollars by addressing multiple issues at once. We look forward to continued collaboration with our partners and state and Federal representatives to find funding sources for the regional CSO issue.”
“Two years ago, we celebrated what was described by many as a once-in-a-generation investment in our region’s infrastructure. Funding from the EPA’s WIFIA program, one of the largest awards in the nation, helped accelerate several clean water initiatives, the York Street Pump Station being one of them. These investments will greatly benefit not only the 250,000 customers who currently rely upon these systems, but also future generations who will rely on them for the next century to come,” said Congressman Neal. “I commend Mayor Sarno, along with Springfield Water and Sewer Commission Chairwoman Vanessa Otero and Executive Director Josh Schimmel, for continuing to invest in our region’s drinking water and wastewater systems. As a former Mayor of Springfield, I know firsthand what goes into maintaining our world-class water. Today, we reaffirm our commitment to promoting public health and the health of our environment by ensuring the sustainability and resiliency of our region’s infrastructure.”
“Addressing Combined Sewers is a major issue that requires a lot of hard work and dedication by local communities – no community should have to deal with sewage flooding. EPA understands that this work is especially challenging for communities like Springfield, Holyoke, Chicopee with economic equity and environmental justice concerns. This accomplishment is very significant and we are grateful to have such dedicated partners all working together to achieve a cleaner and healthier Connecticut River,”said U.S. Environmental Protection Agency New England Regional Administrator David W. Cash.
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno stated, “The Connecticut River is a defining feature of downtown Springfield, and a regional draw for residents and visitors alike. I commend the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission on the completion of their York Street Pump Station Project, which will support the City of Springfield’s goals to connect residents with their river. I also thank the Connecticut River Clean-up Committee for their three decades of cooperative efforts. The Connecticut River Walk and Bikeway, the new Riverfront Park, the many exciting recreational opportunities at the Pioneer Valley Rowing Club, and the arrival of the Iron Man race are just a few examples of how a cleaner Connecticut River leads to better quality of life and a more vibrant economy for our residents.”
“We are proud of the contribution the City of Chicopee has made towards cleaning up the Chicopee and Connecticut Rivers over the past 30 years,” said Chicopee Mayor John Vieau. “Cleaner rivers have provided recreational opportunities, and a new state boat launch to help generate activities and economic vitality. Looking to the work ahead, we are committed to seeking affordable solutions for future projects by maintaining our cooperative partnerships with our neighboring communities and state and federal officials.”
“I am incredibly proud to join Holyoke’s partners in state and federal government, as well as my counterparts in Springfield and Chicopee, to mark the occasion of the Connecticut River Cleanup Committee’s 30th year of effort to address the pollution caused by our legacy combined sewer overflow systems,” said Holyoke Mayor Joshua A. Garcia. “This challenge is one shared by all three of Hampden County’s urban core communities and it is only right that we continue to seek solutions together, as one Pioneer Valley region.”
“The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection is proud of its role in advancing projects that reduce CSO discharges, including the new York Street Pump Station,” said MassDEP Western Region Director Mike Gorksi. “MassDEP has a longstanding partnership with members of the Connecticut River Clean-up Committee and applauds its efforts to secure low-cost SRF financing and grants to improve the water quality of New England’s longest river. We have come a long way, and remain committed to supporting this regional collaboration into the future.”
“It was big regional thinking 30 years ago that catalyzed the planning commission, Springfield Water and Sewer Commission, and, at the time, six Valley cities and towns to join forces to address a shared problem – legacy combined sewer overflow infrastructure and the impact it was having on our local people and places,” said PVPC Executive Director Kimberly H. Robinson. “Today we are here to acknowledge those whose work has contributed to the progress made over the past three decades and to celebrate the major modern accomplishment that is the completion of the York Street Pump Station, all while keeping our eye to the future work left to be done.”