Modern technology protects Charles River from flooding

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April 1, 2010, 4:45 pm
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(NECN: Greg Wayland, Boston, Mass.) - The sun may be shining today, but much of New England is still under water this afternoon.

One major body of water was protected from flooding by modern technology. But, it wasn't always that way along Boston's Charles River.

Well, some of you may remember it -- 1955, catastrophic flooding in the city of Boston. It didn't happen this time. Today, we found out why.

We went out on the harbor with the environmental police and moved up for a close look at tons of water surging from under six arches where the harbor meets the charles river basin.
     
This is the New Charles River Dam, arguably one of the most important facilities in the city of Boston, draining excess volume out of the basin and into the harbor when levels get too high.  
    
And right now, levels are much too high.

Six diesel-powered, 2700 horsepower turbo-charged engines are driving six pumps with a combined capacity of about three-point-seven million gallons per minute.

In other words, some of the charles river basin's best traveled and most popular locations and much of Boston's Back Bay would have looked  like much of the rest of the flood-ravaged state, or the way they looked during heavy rains fifty-five years ago

The dam is still called the New Charles River Dam, even though it went on line in 1978.

It may offer  a blueprint for future flood control in better economic times.
    
Because those big pumps took over from a seventy-year-old  dam that failed to  hold back water during those old floods.

How much water is in the charles basin  now? They took us right into one of locks when they released a thundering rush -- another  way of lowering levels at harbor low tide.

Tags: flooding, New Charles River Dam, pump
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