Local Government and Politics, News

Here’s the catch: Lynn works to clear out basins

Lennin Peña, a Class 1 Operator with the Lynn Water and Sewer Commission, lifts a storm grate on Market Street so he can clear out the catch basin. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — It’s a dirty job, but be grateful someone is doing it.

A Water and Sewer Commission crew is on the streets cleaning the city’s 3,800 catch basins to prevent storm sewer blockages and minimize the amount of pollutants which could enter waterways.

On Thursday, the team was spotted at Market and Munroe streets.

“It’s like a colonoscopy,” said Daniel O’Neill, Water and Sewer Commission executive director. “We need capacity in the catch basins so rain and leaves can get in. If they’re filled to the top, the rain can’t get in and there’s trouble.”

Last fall’s combination of high tide and torrential rain led to flash floods across the North Shore, hitting parts of Lynn particularly hard.

The downpour flooded the Lynnway, and Commercial, Boston, and Alley street along with scores of side roads bringing Saturday morning traffic to a standstill and flooding property.

“We’re out there year-round to stay ahead of potential flooding,” O’Neill said.

While the task is more difficult in the winter when snow, ice and low temperatures cause the covers to freeze, the job needs to be done year-round, he said.

In a conversation with The Item on Thursday, Gov. Charlie Baker raised the issue of resiliency planning for coastal cities.

“The waterfront for coastal communities in Massachusetts is one of their great recreational and economic assets, and at the same time one of their biggest environmental challenges,” he said.

An Environmental Bond bill pending on Beacon Hill would turn Baker’s 2016 executive order into law. The measure directs state agencies to develop and implement a climate adaptation plan to assist local governments with their own assessments and resiliency plans.

“About 100 communities have signed on voluntarily,” Baker said. “I really hope that legislation makes it through by the end of the session.”

More Stories From Lynn