Do We Love That Dirty Water? A report on Charles River water-quality monitoring
November 29, 2007
from 07:00 pm to 09:00 pm
|Where||Cedar Hill Girl Scouts Activity Center, 265 Beaver Street, Waltham|
|Contact Name||Inge Uhlir|
|Contact Phone||(781) 893-3355|
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A talk by Julie Wood, Charles River Watershed Association fellow
Free and open to the public
Sponsored by Waltham Land Trust in association with the Charles River Watershed Association and Girl Scouts Patriots' Trail Council
We love that dirty water, but can we swim in it? On November 29 Julie Dyer Wood of the Charles River Watershed Association gave WLT members the latest “Report Card” results. There’s reason for optimism: in 1995 the USEPA, which rates the water according its e.coli count, gave the river a D. The water was safe for swimming only 19% of the time and for boating only 39%. By 2005, however, the grade had risen to a B+. Swimming was now safe 50% of the time and boating 97%. The CRWA’s goal is an A+ by 2010. Ms. Wood gave an overview of the problems in meeting that goal and the projects that are helping to overcome them.
Not surprisingly, urbanization is a major impediment. A million people live in thirty-five towns within the 308 square miles of the watershed. Storm drains are overloaded; natural water cycles are disrupted, and flooding is a common occurrence. In some towns storm and sewer water flow into the same pipe; when overloaded, raw sewage flows directly into the river. Phosphorus in the runoff creates one of the biggest problems, encouraging the growth of invasive water plants and toxic algae.
To combat these problems the CRWA has several on-going projects. Water quality is monitored at 35 stations along the river. The Find It and Fix It Program checks storm water systems. Education and outreach programs inform people of the problems accompanying fertilizers and promote low impact development to withstand flooding. And what is a better sign of a river’s health than fish? Under the shad restoration project two million shad have been released since 2006. The first marked juveniles will begin their upstream journey in 2009, revitalizing the waters as they go. They’ll love that much cleaner water - and we will, too.
For more information on Charles River watershed programs and activities go to the following sites:
• The EPA’s Clean Charles Initiative
• Water quality monitoring at Beaver Brook
• Charles River Swim
Submitted by Susanne Whayne