Monthly e-news made for advocates. Learn more at
MEPA, Wetlands, and Waltham High School
Did you know that CRWA weighs in on nearly every project in the watershed that is reviewed under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA)? MEPA provides organizations like CRWA, as well as members of the public, the opportunity to review and comment on the environmental impacts of proposed projects. This feedback often leads to better environmental outcomes, which is why participation in MEPA processes is a critical component of CRWA’s work.
Recently, the original project design for Waltham’s new high school would have impacted wetlands, destroyed an entire section of stream, and created significant new impervious surface on the site. CRWA submitted comments last November raising concerns about increases in stormwater runoff and corresponding decreases in groundwater recharge, exacerbation of heat effects, loss of wildlife habitat and natural flood storage, and alteration of natural hydrology. We explained that by minimizing impervious surfaces, maximizing the functioning of natural ecosystems, and employing green infrastructure, the city could mitigate the effects of climate change and create a healthier environment for students and the community. In response to CRWA’s comments, as well as input from the public and state agencies, the city went back to the drawing board. The new project design avoids direct impacts to the stream and wetlands, and reduces the total amount of land that will be altered and impervious surface that will be created.
CRWA will continue following this project through the remaining stages of the MEPA process and advocating for the highest levels of environmental benefits. Comments on the Draft Environmental Impact Report are being accepted through June 19—if you would like to weigh in, more information is available here .
Eagle Dam, Wrentham: Next Steps
Of the 100 dams located in the Charles River Watershed, many are relic structures that no longer provide any benefits. Eagle Dam in Wrentham is in failing condition and poses a flooding hazard for Route 140 and other critical downstream infrastructure. This small dam has been identified as a risk in the Town of Wrentham’s climate planning process, and has a history of 3 breaches and repairs since it was built as a mill dam in the 1800s.

Since 2019, CRWA has partnered with the Town to assess the removal of Eagle Dam, rather than another repair. A removal would restore floodplain around Eagle Brook, further building climate resilience in the Charles River watershed by protecting homes, infrastructure, and transportation from flooding. We look forward to taking the next step in this process: bringing together MassDOT, Wrentham taxpayers, and downstream communities to discuss feasibility.
News at a Glance
  • CRWA advocacy in action: In response to public outcry, a bill that would have allowed for broad spraying of pesticides across the Commonwealth has been significantly improved to focus on sustainable mosquito management. Thanks to all of you who participated in our recent Action Alert and spoke up to protect rivers, ecosystems, and public health! Read our comment letter. 

  • Our Virtual Event Series is still going strong! Thanks to all who have joined us. If you missed any, you can find recordings and related materials at
  • Climate Resilience for ActivistsRev. Vernon K. Walker, CREW, and Emily Norton and Julie Dyer Wood, CRWA, discussed climate resilience and how many of the most effective and inexpensive solutions involve bringing nature back into our built environment.
  • Restoring a Living River: Past, Present, and Future of Dams on the CharlesLisa Kumpf, CRWA, and Sara P. Grady, MBESP and NSRWA, hosted a lively and informative presentation about dams on the Charles River, the dam removal process, and how you can help.
  • Managing Stormwater: MS4 Permit WorkshopStormwater runoff is a major threat to local waterways that will be significantly exacerbated by our changing climate. A new Massachusetts Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit was issued in 2016 that includes special requirements for communities in the Charles River watershed. This permit workshop was sponsored by Foundation for MetroWest to help our community partners better understand these requirements and advocate for clean water.

  • New England Council wrote a strong letter to the state delegation urging a "job-creating, economy-boosting infrastructure package that addresses a variety of needs," including stormwater management. 

  • Our friends at Ipswich River Watershed Association are hosting their 5th Annual Paddle-a-ton Challenge, with a few tweaks! You can participate in this fun outdoors, socially-distant activity by walking, paddling, biking, and more. 

  • Run out of things to watch on Netflix and Hulu? Don’t miss the gripping Patagonia documentary, DamNation, which explores big dams, salmon, and the stories of those who stand on either side of the issue.

  • The herring run is in full swing! Ever wondered how they run up our rivers? Learn more about their life cycle, journey, and challenges. See them underwater at the Watertown Dam with our new video.
Get Involved
COVID-19 has changed many of our volunteer programs and suspended our outreach work. However, we have spent the last 3 months researching and carefully implementing protocols to ensure the safety of our staff and volunteers for certain volunteer programs, and are moving forward with several of them, so that we can continue to collect sound data to back our science-based work.

We are excited to offer a new volunteer opportunity to individuals, families, and friends quarantined together! CRWA is holding a webinar on Wednesday, June 3 at 7:00 pm to provide training on conducting Habitat Assessments , which provide us with important water quality data. Participants will learn how to conduct a Habitat Assessment using EPA’s Low Gradient Stream Habitat Assessment sheet, how to score properly, and how to take precautions to ensure safety during COVID-19. We will provide the training and materials and have specific sites we would prefer to have assessed, but can be flexible if participants have a preferred area. Register now .
Intern Spotlight
Joining the CRWA team now through summer, despite the strange world of remote work, are the following talented science and legal interns. Please help us welcome them!

  • Shailee Desai is CRWA’s Summer GIS Intern. She received a M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy at Northeastern University this spring, where she served as a graduate research assistant for its Global Resilience Institute. Her final project analyzed the distribution of green space in West Roxbury; she looks forward to further gaining insight into stormwater management in her time at CRWA.

  • Christopher LaRosee has previously volunteered for CRWA as a benthic macroinvertebrate monitor; he has also worked with Mass Audubon and Brandeis University. He studies at University of Massachusetts Boston, where he is a lead research assistant and is excited to further hone his skills at one of his favorite places—the Charles River.

  • Andrew Taylor is a student at the Tufts School of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, where he has researched equitable, sustainable, and just cities for Dr. Julian Agyeman. He brings experience with public policy and looks forward to learning more about river restoration.

  • Mark Finley joins CRWA as a J.D. candidate from Indiana University Maurer School of Law. While there, he was the treasurer of its Environmental Law Society and served on the Conservation Law Clinic.

  • Morgan O’Grady is pursuing a law degree at Northeastern University School of Law. She served as a legal intern for the California Dept. of Justice: Land Law & Natural Resources and WildEarth Guardians prior to coming to CRWA.
Upcoming Events
  • Don’t miss the latest in our Virtual Event Series—Teaching Resilience: Green Infrastructure and Education, on Thursday June 11 at 7:00 pm. Learn what can happen when a watershed group, community decision makers, and schools come together to restore nature in their urban neighborhoods. Register now.

  • Did you miss any of our past events? You can find all the related recordings and resources online! Watch now.

  • Most events have been made virtual through the summer. We hope you and your family stay safe and healthy during these times!
Charles River Watershed Association |