Inflow and Infiltration

Inflow and Infiltration Program

Burlington is subject to an Administrative Consent Order ,  ACO-NE-01-1004 issued on July 25, 2001 by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP)  due to excessive amounts of Inflow and Infiltration  (groundwater and  rainwater) entering the sanitary sewer system.

  • Inflow – storm water from roof gutters, yard drains, or sump pumps that are illegally connected to the sanitary sewer.
  • Infiltration - groundwater entering into the sewer system through cracks or separations in sewer pipes and sewer.  

Sewer pipes are designed specifically for the sanitary sewer flows and are relatively small as compared to the municipal storm water pipes. Excessive water flow from Inflow and Infiltration overloads the sewer system causing sewage to back-up in homes and overflow into the environment.   Additionally, since the sewage disposal fee to the MWRA is flow based, the more excess clean water that enters the sewer increases fees paid to the Authority, which is ultimately passed on to the ratepayers.  Removing I/I not only prevents damage to homes and the environments from overflowing sewage, but will also help reduce our sewer bill.

The Town of Burlington has had an extensive, aggressive history towards the removal of Inflow & Infiltration (I/I), even prior to the Administrative Consent Order. The Town has;

  • studied, evaluated, and removed I/I from the sewer system dating back to 1985.  
  • implemented major I/I mitigation projects starting in 2001 funded via  MWRA Grant/Loans,  then  the loans were paid back using collected Sewer Allocation fees assessed for new development without  any impacts to the ratepayers.
  • implemented an innovative Sump Pump redirection program, also known as the Sump Pump Amnesty Program, allowing developers needing sewer credit, to redirect illegal sump pump connections from the sewer to the drainage system at no cost to the Town or property owner. 
  • in order to further reduce I/I, Burlington partnered with the City of Woburn to undertake a regional I/I mitigation project, significantly benefiting both communities.

Sump Pump Amnesty Program

Illicit connections to the Town’s sanitary sewer system violate local, state, and federal law and can result in fines levied by the state and/or federal government. However, should a resident have one of these connections in their home; the Town has an amnesty program that will fund a proper professional redirection of the sump pump to the storm water system at no cost to the homeowner. For more information regarding the amnesty program, see related documents on the right hand side of this page or contact the DPW\Engineering Division  at (781) 270-1640.