Monthly e-news made for advocates. Learn more at
Checking in at the Natural Valley Storage Area
Last month, we conducted a habitat assessment at the Charles River Natural Valley Storage Area (NVSA), a network of over 8,100 acres of wetlands that naturally store floodwaters, preserve habitat for fish and wildlife, and create recreation opportunities. Since its creation, the NVSA has prevented at least $12 million in flood damages and is a prime example of natural climate resilience efforts.

However, wetlands and streams throughout the region face the growing threats of invasive species growth, biodiversity loss, reduced riparian habitat, low streamflow, and poor water quality. While protected, the health of the NVSA wetlands have never been fully assessed. Our initial habitat and site assessment found an excess of sediment and trash in Dix Brook, and trees entangled with invasive bittersweet vines.

With funding from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, we look forward to further assessing the health of wetlands in the Town of Franklin by performing benthic macroinvertebrate and habitat assessments, quantifying vegetation health using aerial images, and conducting a fish survey. We will also engage community members to understand the value of the NVSA and organize future invasive bittersweet removal events. Empowering citizens to understand and restore the health of wetlands is critical to climate resilience both within the Charles River Watershed and beyond. Learn more.

The Massachusetts Environmental Trust is funded through the sale of specialty license plates. Support the work of CRWA and other environmental nonprofits by purchasing an enviro-plate!
News at a Glance
  • In case you missed it, we had a huge win for Massachusetts rivers: Governor Baker signed the combined sewer overflow (CSO) notification bill into law! (yes, untreated sewage still flows into our rivers during heavy rain events...yuck!) A huge thanks to Massachusetts Rivers Alliance for leading the advocacy for so many years on this urgent issue. Learn more.

  • In other legislative news, Governor Baker vetoed an ambitious climate change bill passed by the legislature at the very end of the session. It had passed with a veto-proof majority but time ran out to override the governor’s veto before the session ended. Now that we are in a new legislative session, the state House and Senate have refiled the bill. We urge its swift passage and approval by Governor Baker, as it contains important provisions around reducing energy use, transitioning to clean energy, protecting environmental justice communities, and more. 

  • The drought has officially ended and our rivers, streams, and surrounding land are recovering—but state officials have asked the public to continue to be mindful of the amount of water they are using. Learn more.

  • The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) announced recently that it is considering new water conservation restrictions during droughts on water supply systems that are currently exempt from conservation requirements. These restrictions would apply to non-essential outdoor watering, like lawn watering. Communities that already have protective restrictions in place during the summer are unlikely to see substantial changes. Overall though, this is a critical step towards better protecting our water supplies, and one that CRWA has long advocated for.

  • CRWA finalized a restoration plan with the Town of Milford for the area around Milford Pond. If implemented, the proposed plan would reduce 650 pounds of nutrient pollution load into the river, contribute 240 million gallons to groundwater recharge, and meet legally required pollution reductions each year. CRWA is now working to implement the plan by constructing three green infrastructure installations in Milford Town Park. Learn more.

  • Dam removal is one of the best things you can do for a river, and we’re excited to be working with the Town of Wrentham to assess the feasibility of removing the Eagle Dam, an old mill dam that is in poor condition and is directly upstream of Rt. 140. . We held a virtual information session with the community this month and were excited to draw an engaged crowd. Learn more.

  • The Clif Bar Family Foundation awarded CRWA a $3,000 grant to support community science engagement on the Charles River. We are honored to receive this award and thank the Clif Bar Family Foundation for recognizing the importance of engaging the community in understanding and improving local waterways. Overseeing a river that stretches 80 miles and a watershed that spans 308 square miles takes a village. With CRWA’s small staff, our vital work would not be possible without our volunteer monitors. In 2020 alone, CRWA community scientists collected over 380 water samples from across the watershed!

Get Involved

  • Look good and stay warm in new CRWA apparel long sleeves and sweaters!

Intern Spotlight
CRWA is excited to welcome two new interns to our team!

Niklas Johnson is a junior majoring in environmental science at the University of Vermont. He joins us through Semester in the City, a fully-accredited fellowship program that matches undergraduate students with Boston non-profits for a semester of hands-on learning. Nik is interested in sustainability and environmental management, and looks forward to growing his skills.

Racheal Rodman is a senior majoring in environmental science at Simmons University, and comes to CRWA with data science experience from an internship with the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Racheal looks forward to learning more about watershed mapping, spatial data display, and working directly within the field to investigate and report on water quality issues.
Upcoming Events

  • Save the date for CRWA’s next virtual event: Adapting to Climate Change: Re-envisioning our Public Spaces, on February 25th at 7pm.

  • Most events have gone virtual for the time being. As a science-based organization, we encourage you to continue following CDC recommendations, like wearing a mask, maintaining a safe social distance from others, and celebrating the holidays within your own household. We wish you and your family continued health during these difficult times.
Charles River Watershed Association |
If you would like to unsubscribe to a specific email list, please email If you click on Unsubscribe below, you will unsubscribe from all CRWA emails moving forward.