There are lots of different ways the cities and towns across Massachusetts have been ranked: oldest towns, friendliest towns, most dangerous cities and towns, there are rankings for them all.

A new finding from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection, however, might be the grossest ranking for cities we've heard of yet.

Using numbers from the Massachusetts Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, WBUR tallied the results for combined sewer overflows and found some rather icky news for residents of the SouthCoast.

Turns out sewer overflows were extremely high this year. In fact, from April 2023 through September 2023 there were three times as many overflows as the same time period in 2022.

Why more overflow?

Well this year's heavy rain has a lot to do with it. Though sewer systems and storm water runoff systems are different, when the rainfall gets very heavy (like it did again and again in 2023) the pipes can get overwhelmed and extra sewage overflows into the same bodies of water that the storm water flows into.

That means untreated sewage flowing into local rivers repeatedly this spring and summer.

Older systems, like the ones in New Bedford and Fall River, tend to get overwhelmed more than newer systems, and that resulted in our two biggest SouthCoast cities landing at the top of one disgusting ranking:

Massachusetts cities with the most sewer overflows.

Worst of all, Fall River beat everyone else on the list out by a lot.

While up in Boston two of the cities facilities saw sewer overflows 18 times in the six months period listed above, Fall River had one site overflow into the Taunton River 76 times. Two other locations on the same river overflowed 56 and 57 times, respectively.

New Bedford's 36 overflows into Clark Cove along with 26 into both Outer New Bedford Harbor and Inner New Bedford Harbor doesn't sound so great, either – and those are just a few of the double digit overflows in town.

WBUR did a deep dive on ways local cities and towns are trying to solve the overflow problem, but the disgusting results still remain for now and swimming or fishing in local rivers seem a little more nerve-racking.

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