CHELMSFORD -- Local officials are working to fix a broken sewer line that is pouring up to 3,000 gallons of sewage per minute into a brook that leads to the Merrimack River.
Ed Coletta, spokesperson for the state Department of Environmental Protection, said the department received a report late Tuesday that a line coming out of the town of Chelmsford’s pumping station had broken that day, causing sewage to flow out of the pipe and into the nearby Deep Brook, which runs directly into the Merrimack River.
Coletta said Chelmsford officials estimate that 3,000 gallons of sewage per minute is flowing out of the pipe, which sits about 16 feet underground along the bank of Deep Brook.
He said that to address the situation, the town has decided to bypass the break in the line. The project, according to Coletta, will include digging up the area, attaching a connector to the pipe and adding a new pipe that runs around it and reconnects on the other side of the break.
Coletta said the bypass work is ongoing and will hopefully be completed “sometime Friday.”
Coletta said MassDEP representatives have been to the site and working with local officials to address it. Additionally, the department has reached out to local officials to see what alternatives could be used.
MassDEP has also been in contact with communities downstream from the break, specifically ones that use the Merrimack for drinking water, including Lowell, Tewksbury, Lawrence and Methuen.
Newburyport Mayor Donna Holaday said on Wednesday afternoon that she had not yet been notified of the sewage spill, but expressed hope the matter would be solved as quickly as possible.
“On one hand, it’s a good thing that we haven’t had a tremendous amount of rain lately, so there haven’t been many CSOs (combined sewage overflows),” said Holaday. “These are really tough situations and it’s up to how quickly you can mobilize your team, get the parts and fix the line.”