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Blog - Charles River Watershed Association

Cyanobacteria bloom is a clear example of why we need environmental protections

Posted by Alexandra Ash

8/3/17 10:26 PM

There is currently a cyanobacteria outbreak in the Charles River, threatening the health of pets and interfering with folks' recreational plans. Based on field observations, the outbreak (or blooms) appears to be limited to the section of the river downstream of the Boston University Bridge. The Department of Conservation and Recreation urges the public to avoid contact with the water and to prevent pets from drinking it. 

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2016 Charles River water quality report indicates room for improvement

Posted by Katie Friedman

4/24/17 4:37 PM

Looking_upriver_at_the_Cochrane_Dam_by_Nick_King-177017-edited.jpg

Dry riverbed, Charles River downstream of Cochrane Dam, Needham-Dover line. Photo by Nick King

CRWA’s Volunteer Monthly Monitoring (VMM) program provides data that can be used to better understand the health of the Charles River and its tributaries. In addition to providing the public with an easily-accessible picture of the health of the Charles through EPA's annual Charles River Report Card, the data collected also enable CRWA to identify problem areas so that remediation efforts can be focused more efficiently.

 

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Proposed changes to NPDES permitting threaten Massachusetts' rivers

Posted by Margaret VanDeusen

3/13/17 5:05 PM

Last week Governor Baker reintroduced a bill opposed by environmentalists last legislative session that would allow Massachusetts to take over the water pollution permitting program from U.S. EPA. Under the federal Clean Water Act, EPA currently regulates discharges of stormwater, wastewater and industrial pollution into our waterways.  The governor’s bill would enable the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) to assume “primacy” for issuing these permits, known as National Pollution Discharge Elimination System, or NPDES, permits. 

Charles River Watershed Association, the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance and other environmental groups oppose this bill because it will provide no environmental benefit and cost MA taxpayers millions of dollars each year. MassDEP is also already struggling to perform core monitoring, assessment, reporting and research on water quality across the state.  

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The Year in Review- Highlights from 2016

Posted by Alexandra Ash

12/14/16 9:59 AM

2016 marked important milestones for the restoration of the Charles River and its watershed: the elimination of heat pollution from the Kendall Power Plant, the daylighting of the Muddy River, and the removal of the hazardous sandbar near Brighton. 2016 also saw the worst drought since the 1960's, persistent stormwater pollution, another cyanobacteria bloom in the Charles River Lower Basin, and the nomination of a new US EPA Administrator who questions climate change. Through it all, CRWA passionately continued our work throughout the watershed developing smart, green water infrastructure, promoting restorative ways to reduce stormwater pollution and flooding, and advocating for strong and effective water policy and regulations. We couldn't have done this work without you—thank you! 

Below are just a few of the highlights from 2016. 

 

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Making Way for the Head of the Charles!

Posted by Alexandra Flowers

10/21/16 5:37 PM

Head of the Charles

Boston skyline from the BU Bridge during the 2014 Head of the Charles Regatta. Source: Bill Damon | CC BY 2.0

Early on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, CRWA interns and volunteers head out on the Charles River along with many others. As rowers head out to prepare for the world renowned race, The Head of the Charles Regatta, we are preparing to test the quality of the water. As we begin our long journey down the Charles to the Longfellow bridge in a small motor boat (trying to dodge all the rowers along the way), we finally make it to the furthest point of our trek about two hours later. We shut the boat off to prepare sample bottles. We will sample water from the Charles River near four different bridges.

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9 Ways to Combat Cyanobacteria Blooms in the Charles River

Posted by Allie Rowe

10/10/16 3:48 PM

What is cyanobacteria? Why is it a concern?

cyanobacteria

Cyanobacteria bloom in a freshwater pond
Source: Christian Fischer | CC BY-SA 3.0

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, are microorganisms that obtain their energy through photosynthesis and live in aquatic environments. Cyanobacteria populations can grow rapidly in fresh water, brackish water, or seawater during events known as “blooms.” Blooms often appear as dense green mats floating on or just below the water’s surface. Cyanobacteria blooms can produce toxins that harm humans, dogs, and wildlife. Exposure to these toxins may irritate the eyes, ears, and skin, and can also damage to the liver and nervous system. Emerging science shows a possible link to neurodegenerative diseases and a possibility of exposure through inhalation. Thick mats of cyanobacteria block sunlight and oxygen from entering the water, smothering fish and other aquatic organisms.

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Cyanobacteria Outbreak in Lower Charles River

Posted by Alexandra Ash

8/30/16 4:06 PM

Water samples collected last Thursday confirmed a cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, outbreak in the Charles River Lower Basin downstream of the Massachusetts Avenue Bridge.

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Rethinking Urban Infrastructure

Posted by Alexandra Ash

3/23/16 4:24 PM

Charles River Watershed Association is designing and promoting infrastructure that will solve the problems of today and allow us to adapt to a changing future. Explore the conversation below to see what people are saying about CWERCs and to learn about the individual technologies that come together in this innovative new take on wastewater.

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Upcoming federal regulations will help protect the Charles River

Posted by Alexandra Ash

2/23/16 10:03 AM

A recent article in the Boston Globe "US set to force cleanup of river" describes the new stormwater general permit that the U.S. EPA will be issuing next month. The MS4 (Small Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System) permit will regulate the stormwater that towns and cities discharge to the Charles River and to water bodies throughout the state. Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) has advocated for this overdue permit, which should have been issued in 2008 and which has already gone through two public comment periods. 

 

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Water Transformation Part 14: Reality Assessment

Posted by Robert Zimmerman

1/26/16 1:02 PM


PREVIOUS POST: Water Transformation Part 13 - Blue Cities Exchange

Charles River Watershed Association’s vision for transforming our urban landscape, the work I have discussed in this blog series, recently received some coverage in the local media, first with an article in the Boston Globe, and later the same day on Radio Boston. These pieces begin to scratch the surface by introducing the basic concepts. Given the recent media attention, I would like to respond to a few elements of the coverage and ensuing discussion, clear up some misconceptions, and give a direct report on where we are now.

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About Charles River Watershed Association:

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.