7/31/17 8:54 PM
5/18/17 12:00 PM
Blog post by CRWA's Aquatic Scientist
The herring are back! It's that time of year; alewife and bluback herring have once again returned to the Charles River to spawn. Estimates of the river herring population on the Charles run upwards of 300,000 fish, making our herring run one of the largest in Massachusetts. Based on historic observations, we expect that the majority of herring, approximately 80% of the run, will pass through the Watertown Dam within the next week. The fish ladder the herring will use to swim against the current over the dam is on the southern bank of the river, but you can easily see the fish waiting in calmer waters under trees just below the dam from the Charles River Greenway on the north bank of the river. If you have polarized sunglasses, you can get an even better view! If you are unable to walk or bike to the Watertown Dam, limited parking is available at the DCR parking lot off of Pleasant Street on the north side of the river and on the side of California Street on the south side of the River. Fish that pass over the Watertown Dam continue their journey upstream in search of streams that feed into the Charles River, such as Beaver Brook and Stony Brook in Waltham and the newly-restored Fuller Brook, Rosemary Brook, and Waban Brook in Wellesley. Some herring do not continue up to the Watertown Dam after passing through the locks at Boston Harbor and instead swim up the Muddy River in Boston. If you see herring or other fish in the Charles River or one of its tributary streams, send us your photos on Facebook or Twitter!
5/3/17 10:18 AM
The aquatic plant community in the Charles River watershed is unfortunately dominated by invasive plants. Polluted stormwater runoff carrying nutrient pollution allows these plants to grow out of control. Here are a few of the most common invasive aquatic plants you’ll encounter along the Charles.more
3/23/17 2:40 PM
The Charles River after the removal of the Old Mill Dam in Bellingham. Photo by Allen Orsi.
After more than a year spent permitting the project and four months of on-site work dredging sediment and deconstructing the Old Mill Dam, the Charles River now flows freely from the North Bellingham dam to the West Medway dam. Although revegetation of the river banks and the newly-capped backwatering area that has been filled with dredged sediment will take several months (not much will grow through the recent snow!), the restoration project is now complete with the exception of the construction of a stormwater treatment basin that will clean runoff from Pearl Street before it makes its way to the river.
1/23/17 5:33 PM
The Muddy River, which runs a course of 2.9 miles from Jamaica Pond to the Charles River, is the most significant tributary of the lower Charles River. As a prominent feature of the famous Emerald Necklace parks, its fate was marginally better than most tributaries of the lower Charles in that it was only partially buried and not completely buried in the frenzy to make more land available around Boston in the early 1900’s. Nonetheless, the river was seriously impacted by this human interference. The river lost some of its natural ability to flush sediment that accumulates in the river as a result of stormwater runoff and was unable to adequately dissipate flooding across its floodplain. Severe flooding in the 1990’s made it clear that the human-altered Muddy River system was not working, and an effort to restore the river’s natural characteristics was needed.
12/2/16 1:51 PM
Volunteers pull invasive water chestnuts in the Charles River Lakes District.
Despite the emergence of water chestnut plants in the Lower Charles River Basin and on the Charles River in Cutler Park, the 2016 season of CRWA’s Canoeing for Clean Water program was a success.more
11/9/16 12:21 PM
CRWA volunteer Max Dulieu boats to the sampling site.
Since 2002, CRWA has partnered with boathouses in the Lower Charles River Basin to communicate potential public health risks to Charles River users during summer months. In the early years of the program, CRWA scientists would run recent rainfall data through simple models in Microsoft Excel first thing in the morning to estimate the concentrations of E. coli bacteria at four locations on the river: the North Beacon Street Bridge, the Larz Anderson Bridge, the BU Bridge, and the Longfellow Bridge. Our staff would then call boathouses to tell them which color flag they should fly: blue when there were no predicted public health risks and red when predicted E. coli bacteria levels exceeded the Massachusetts water quality standard for boating: 1,260 colony-forming units per 100 milliliters. CRWA also recorded predictions on a “hotline” that river users could call to find out the water quality predictions for the day.
10/26/16 12:01 PM
The Old Mill Dam on Pearl Street in Bellingham.
12/20/2016 Update: The removal of the Old Mill Dam in Bellngham has begun!
This year, the Town of Bellingham will begin work to remove the Old Mill Dam on Peal Street in Bellingham, making Mill Dam the first Charles River dam to be removed. The Town of Bellingham is the first town to begin a dam removal project in the Charles River Watershed. This project was made possible with financial support from the Massachusetts’ Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Dam and Seawall Repair or Removal Program and technical support from the Department of Fish and Game’s Division of Ecological Restoration (DER). Removing the dam, which is unsafe in its current state, will reconnect 9.2 miles of river habitat upstream of the dam to 50 miles of unobstructed river downstream.
8/19/16 6:28 PM
Got spare time during your drive across Franklin, MA? Check out these hidden gems that were featured in a town rain garden tour on August 17! The Town of Franklin has built and maintains an impressive 15 rain gardens across town in an effort to help capture rainwater as it flows off of streets, parking lots, and rooftops and filter it through the ground before it reaches the Charles River. These rain gardens make a huge impact keeping the river clean and healthy!
8/18/15 4:20 PM
While conducting routine water sampling on Wednesday, July 29th, Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) spotted six dead fish between the North Beacon Street bridge in Watertown/Brighton and the Larz Anderson bridge in Cambridge. Since that initial observation, CRWA has received many reports of additional fish kill sightings via our website and social media. We estimate that between 61 and 103 dead fish, reported pimarily as carp and large-mouth bass, have been observed between the Galen Street bridge in Watertown and the Longfellow Bridge in Cambridge/Boston.
One of the country's oldest watershed organizations, Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) was formed in 1965 in response to public concern about the declining condition of the Charles. Since its earliest days of advocacy, CRWA has figured prominently in major clean-up and watershed protection efforts, working with government officials and citizen groups from 35 Massachusetts watershed towns from Hopkinton to Boston. Initiatives over the last fifty years have dramatically improved the quality of water in the watershed and fundamentally changed approaches to water resource management.