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Blog - Charles River Watershed Association

The Muddy River Then and Now: Water Quality in 2006 vs. 2016

Posted by Elisabeth Cianciola

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.

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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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Take a Tour of Franklin's Best Rain Gardens

Posted by Elisabeth Cianciola

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!

WATCH NOW: Franklin Rain Garden Tour

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Toward Swimming in the Charles River

Posted by Alexandra Ash

7/11/16 12:35 PM

CitySplash_Jump-693642-edited.jpg

Charles River Watershed Association is committed to a clean Charles River and supports the efforts to reintroduce swimming to the lower Charles River. Before the river can support a permanent swimming facility, there are a few challenges that must be addressed. We are actively working on providing solutions to each of these challenges. CRWA’s work focuses on restoring the Charles River and creating resilient cities— work that will also make swimming possible. CRWA initiatives are reducing flood impacts, increasing drought resilience, promoting renewable energy production, and creating more livable cities. They will also lead to the nearly full restoration of the Charles River and swimming.

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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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Water Transformation Part 13: Blue Cities Exchange

Posted by Robert Zimmerman

8/6/15 10:34 AM

PREVIOUS POST: Water Transformation Part 12 - Paying for Green Infrastructure  and Restored Streams

In Part 12, I introduced one of the tools CRWA has been developing to help drive down costs for the installation of blue/green infrastructure, while potentially providing income to help restore streams and rivers. This tool is an interactive website called Blue Cities Exchange.

 

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Swimming in the Charles River

Posted by Elisabeth Cianciola

7/23/15 4:03 PM

To swim or not to swim? That is the question


After a 50-year hiatus, swimming in the Charles River Lower Basin (the portion of the river downstream from the Watertown dam) has re-emerged as possible recreational opportunity for a city that loves its water sports.

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3 Ways CRWA Counters Nonpoint Source Water Pollution

Posted by Apratim Sahay

7/17/15 7:00 AM

Algae in the Charles River
                Overnourished by phosphorus and nitrogen carried into the Charles by nonpoint sources, Blue-green Algae thrive at the expense of other aquatic organisms

Perhaps you have heard WGBH's recent series Water Pressure discussing nonpoint source water pollution and are curious about CRWA's strategies to address this threat to the Charles River. Nonpoint source pollution (NPS) occurs when rainfall, snowmelt, or irrigation moves over the ground, picks up man-made and natural pollutants and deposits them, untreated, into our rivers, lakes and coastal water bodies. Imagine a drop of rain slapping onto an oily and grimy street, or a pesticide-rich lawn, picking up speed and contaminants in equal measure, then flowing through drains and unloading directly into a waterway. Because of its diffuse nature, NPS pollution is a challenge to address. The sheer variety and scale of nonpoint sources is staggering: sediments eroding from riverbanks or construction sites; fuels, grease and heavy metals leaking from cars and running off roads; car exhaust and power plant emissions; fertilizers and herbicides washing off agricultural lands and lawns. CRWA has long been working to reduce nonpoint source pollution, and has developed a multi-disciplinary strategy combining our strengths in science, advocacy and design to reduce nonpoint source pollution to the Charles River

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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.