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Blog - Charles River Watershed Association

10 Ways to Celebrate National Water Quality Month

Posted by Alexandra Ash

8/16/17 12:37 PM

August is National Water Quality Month, a time to focus on what we can do to improve the quality of our rivers, streams and lakes. Healthy waterbodies contribute to healthy communities, support diverse wildlife, and provide recreation opportunities and stimulate economic development.

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2016 Charles River water quality report indicates room for improvement

Posted by Katie Friedman

4/24/17 4:37 PM

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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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Take action to protect the environment and the Charles River

Posted by Alexandra Ash

3/24/17 2:11 PM

Updated 4/18/2017

Looking for ways to get more involved in in protecting the environment? Let your voice be heard! Now more than ever, effective laws, policies, regulations, and permits, and their strong implementation at the local, state and federal levels matter for the environment and the Charles River. Grassroots action often makes the difference. Sign up for The River Current, CRWA’s e-newsletterto receive action alerts and project news. Click here to read our recent action alert

Below are a few ideas to get you started.  

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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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Removing dams can improve river health

Posted by Alexandra Ash

12/20/16 10:09 AM

Updated 3/23/17

Built to generate power for industry in the 18th and 19th centuries, dams served an important role in the history of the Charles River watershed. However, dams slowed the flow of the Charles River, hampering its ability to cleanse itself. Dams also prevented migratory river herring from reaching upstream reaches of the river to spawn. While some Charles River dams provide flood control, many of the dams on the Charles River bring more problems than benefits. When dams become obsolete, their removal can benefit rivers and the surrounding communities. These Frequently Asked Questions discuss the benefits and challenges of dam removal. 

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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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Record-breaking Season for CRWA’s Canoeing for Clean Water Program

Posted by Elisabeth Cianciola

12/2/16 1:51 PM

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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.

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CRWA’s Water Quality Notification Program Completes 15th Season

Posted by Elisabeth Cianciola

11/9/16 12:21 PM

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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.

 

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Toward Clean Water in Rio and Boston

Posted by Jaya Rawla

8/19/16 3:42 PM


The 2016 Olympic Games have seen more than 10,000 athletes competing in dozens of sports in Rio de Janeiro. Water sports such as rowing and canoeing took place outdoors on some of Rio’s many waterways including the Marina da Glória. Amidst the sporting fervor, there has been a degree of concern about Rio’s water quality.

 

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2015 Charles River Water Quality

Posted by Alexandra Ash

7/27/16 2:52 PM

Today, the U.S. EPA announced that the lower Charles River scored a B+ for its water quality in 2015. The annual Charles River Report Card focuses on the section of the Charles River downstream of the Watertown Dam and rates its cleanliness based on measured bacteria levels. EPA uses data collected year-round by Charles River Watershed Association's citizen scientist volunteers to assign the water quality grade each year.

CRWA's volunteer monthly monitoring program collects data at 37 sites up and down the river. In addition to bacteria, volunteers monitor water temperature, river depth and other indicators of water quality once a month during every month of the year. Our 2015 Year-End Report details our findings. Below, find some of the key takeaways. 

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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.