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Sewage Fills Charles

EPA Orders Milford to Clean up Its Act

By Charles G. Kels

Boating in the Charles River may become a little safer if the town of Milford obeys an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) order to cut off pipes that illegally connect sewers and storm drains.

The pipes are currently depositing sewage into the Charles River, resulting in fecal coliform bacteria levels 200 times the proper level for boating.

According to the terms of the EPA ultimatum, the problem must be fixed by November 1997, or Milford, which is thirty minutes by car from Cambridge, will be forced to pay heavy fines.

The EPA is trying to make the Charles River fishable and swimmable by the year 2005.

"It's an obvious and tangible problem," said Jonathan S. Paul '00, who rows. "Everyone's very conscious of the fact that the river's very dirty. People are wary of having any contact with backsplash from oars."

"One day we were walking over a bridge and saw a cement area with nasty sewage leaking out," Paul said. "Later we saw emergency vehicles there."

But Paul said the pollution has not affected his daily routine.

"We just try to be aware of it and avoid contact with it as much as possible," said Paul. "It's not a major fear for me."

Coaches who practice on the river said they are dealing with the problem with "prudent awareness" and are not altering their practice schedules.

"If we get sick, we get sick," said assistant sailing coach Michael G. O'Conner. "Besides cleaning ourselves thoroughly, we've taken no other precautions."

Men's heavyweight crew head coach Harry L. Parker expressed similar sentiments.

"It causes us some concern, but it hasn't actually affected our operations in any way," Parker said. "For a few days we had our crew row upstream away from the pollution."

Milford town administrators said they are doing their best to fix the pollution problem.

"This situation has been handled in a very cordial atmosphere of full cooperation," said Louis J. Celozzi, executive secretary and administrator to the Milford Board of Selectmen. "We are complying in full with the EPA and the Charles River Watershed Group."

The Charles River Watershed Association, Inc. is a 25-year-old non-profit organization seeking to improve the river environment.

Even though Milford was warned about raw sewage a year and a half ago, Celozzi said the town has "taken a proactive approach."

According to Celozzi, the problem was generated by one bad line. A Milford sewage eruption and Boston University oil spill over the summer contributed to further river pollution.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Regional EPA Chief John DeVillars said the agency is "aggressively working with communities along the Charles to systematically identify and remove sewer connections to storm drains." The Weld boathouse on Memorial Drive closed for a number of days this summer because of reports that a broken pipe in Newton spilled raw sewage into the river.

The chair of the Board of Selectmen, Dino Debatolone, reached yesterday at his home, refused to comment on the pollution.

"I don't work on Sundays," Debatolone said before hanging up

Even though Milford was warned about raw sewage a year and a half ago, Celozzi said the town has "taken a proactive approach."

According to Celozzi, the problem was generated by one bad line. A Milford sewage eruption and Boston University oil spill over the summer contributed to further river pollution.

In an interview with the Boston Globe, Regional EPA Chief John DeVillars said the agency is "aggressively working with communities along the Charles to systematically identify and remove sewer connections to storm drains." The Weld boathouse on Memorial Drive closed for a number of days this summer because of reports that a broken pipe in Newton spilled raw sewage into the river.

The chair of the Board of Selectmen, Dino Debatolone, reached yesterday at his home, refused to comment on the pollution.

"I don't work on Sundays," Debatolone said before hanging up

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