General Laws of Massachusetts - Chapter 83 Sewers, Drains and Sidewalks - Section 1 Authorization; connecting sewers; approval of plans; acquisition of lands by eminent domain or purchase; agreements with municipalities or districts; contracts

Section 1. A city or town may lay out, construct, maintain and operate a system or systems of common sewers and main drains in public or private ways for a part or the whole of its territory as they adjudge necessary for the public convenience or the public health with such connections and other works as may be required for a system or systems of sewerage and drainage, stormwater treatment and disposal, and sewage treatment and disposal. Such works for sewage treatment and disposal may include any wastewater treatment facility for treating, neutralizing or stabilizing sewage including treatment or disposal plants; the necessary intercepting, outfall and outlet sewers; pumping stations integral to such facilities; and equipment and appurtenances related to the foregoing. The works for drainage may include a stormwater treatment facility or measure of treating, or removing sediment or contaminants from, stormwater discharges. For the purposes of this chapter the word “sewage” shall mean wastewater from homes, public buildings, commercial or industrial establishments, or any combination thereof, and shall include any surface or ground water that may be present therein. For the purposes of this chapter, the word ‘stormwater’ shall mean surface runoff from precipitation.

A city or town may install and maintain, in any way therein where sanitary sewers are constructed, such connecting sewers within the limits of such way as may be necessary to connect any estate which abuts upon the way.

No act shall be done except in the making of surveys, reports and other preliminary investigations, until the plan for said system or systems of sewerage and sewage treatment and disposal has been approved by the department of public health.

The aldermen of a city or selectmen, sewer commissioners, or road commissioners, acting for and on behalf of a city or town, may take by eminent domain under chapter seventy-nine, or acquire by purchase or otherwise, any lands, rights of way or easements, public or private, in said city or town, necessary for accomplishing any purpose mentioned in this section, and may construct such sewers or drains under or over any bridge, railroad, railway, or public way, or within the location of any railroad, and may enter upon and dig up any private land, public way or railroad location, for the purpose of laying such sewers or drains and of maintaining and repairing the same, and may do any other thing proper or necessary for the purpose of this section; provided that they shall not take in fee any land of a railroad corporation, and that they shall not enter upon or construct any sewer or drain within the location of any railroad corporation except at such time and in such manner as they may agree upon with such corporation, or, in case of failure to agree, as may be approved by the department of telecommunications and energy. Any person injured in his property by such action may recover damages from such city or town under chapter seventy-nine.

Any city, town or district may enter into agreements and contracts with the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority for the purpose of making connections and for the collection, treatment and disposal of sewage. No connection shall be made until the plans have been approved by the department of environmental protection and in instances within the sewer system of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority until the contract and plans are approved by the said Authority. The word “district”, as used in this paragraph, shall be construed, so far as apt, as it is defined in section one A of chapter forty.

Until the board of sewer commissioners has first been elected or the selectmen have first been authorized by vote to act as such board, as the case may be, the town may carry on such work by a duly authorized committee of the town. Said committee shall serve without compensation and shall have all the powers and authority usually conferred upon a board of sewer commissioners by law.

A city, town, commission or district through its sewer department, if any, if thereunto authorized by ordinance, or by-law or by vote of its governing body if a commission or district, may make contracts with, or may go to aid any other city, town, commission or district with regard to the operation, repair and maintenance of the physical properties of its system or systems of sewers and drains. Any such ordinance, by-law or vote may authorize the head of the department in charge of sewers and drains to enter into contracts or to extend such aid subject to such conditions and restrictions as may be prescribed therein. Members of such departments of cities, towns, commissions or districts while in the performance of their duties under such contracts or in extending such aid shall have the same immunities and privileges as if performing the same work in their respective cities, towns, commissions, and districts. Any city, town, commission or district aided under this section shall compensate any city, town, commission or district rendering aid as aforesaid, for such aid and for the whole or any part of any damage to its property sustained in the course of rendering such aid. Any contracts under this section may be for a period not exceeding twenty years.

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Last modified: September 11, 2015