Republican Third District candidate Rick Green, the latest political hopeful to plunge headfirst into a major Bay State waterway, may be over his head in suggesting it’s a great idea to escape local traffic jams by diving into a river that violates clean water standards (“Meanwhile, by the Merrimack River . . . ,” Campaign Notebook, Sept. 13). Just as we must address crumbling transportation infrastructure, we also must upgrade (and find the means to pay for) the out-of-date sanitation infrastructure found in many of our older cities.
Here in the Merrimack Valley, that outdated infrastructure releases raw sewage into the river every time we have a rainstorm. This amounts to 300 million to 400 million gallons of sewage annually. And it stays in the river for two to three days — well after the rain stops and politicians start to think about taking a swim. Major releases begin in Manchester, N.H., and continue down through Nashua, Lowell, Lawrence, and Haverhill.
True, whenever a candidate engages in a harmless stunt, it creates a splash. In this case, though, the inadvertent message may be that the Merrimack River is fine for an impromptu dip. But after a sudden or prolonged rainstorm, it isn’t. We’d urge all Third District congressional candidates, whether running or swimming, to take seriously the need for a cleaner river.