CHARLES RIVER BASIN– The Flagging Program is back! The go-to resource for safe recreation on the Charles River, the Flagging Program provides live water quality updates through a system of color-coded flags to indicate boating safety between Watertown and Boston. 

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the partnership between Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) and Community Rowing, Inc (CRI). Since 2007, our dawn-rising water quality monitors have launched from the docks of CRI to sample at five locations in the Lower Basin to closely monitor water quality. This partnership with Community Rowing is essential to CRWA’s River Science Program and helps educate the boating community and protect public health.

The Flagging Program provides a comprehensive picture of recreation risks for boaters—warning of sewage overflows, cyanobacteria advisories, and E. Coli contamination that could make boating unsafe. Using a predictive model that analyzes precipitation forecasts, and verified by weekly on-the-river samples, the Flagging Program is a highly effective resource to help boaters make informed decisions about how to stay safe before heading out on the water. 

"There's nothing like being in a narrow rowing shell on the Charles River to get you up close and personal with the wildlife, the weather—and the water quality! Most of the time the boat stays up and stable, but occasionally there are unforeseen forces that cause the boat to ‘flip.’ That's why the Flagging Program is so critical to rowers, especially those who have health or immune issues like rheumatoid arthritis,” says Charlotte Pierce, producer of Ready, Row! USA podcast and A Watershed Moment. “I have Community Rowing rowing friends who watch the flags carefully since immersion could put them at risk during a red flag period. This is why many CRI rowers volunteer and contribute to the work of the Charles River Watershed Association– a clean and safe Charles River is important to all of us!"