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Drought Documentation: Your Rivers and Streams Need You
As we reported last month , most of the state is in a Level 2 Significant Drought status. Help us show what #MADroughtLooksLike!

While the state’s Drought Management Task Force has access to a lot of scientific data (i.e. streamflow, groundwater gauges, etc), they don’t always have things like:

  • “This part of Sawmill Stream hasn’t been dry in July in the 30 years I’ve been kayaking on it.”
  • “Last week, I noticed a bunch of dead fish on the shore of Rainbow Trout Brook, which has been very low for a couple of weeks.”

These types of observations can direct attention and supply insight in a way data can’t always do. If you notice an area looks like it has low streamflow or water levels, send us your observations at , with a location name and date.

And as always, water conservation is critical during drought. Our changing climate is altering storm and rain systems, and as predicted, precipitation is becoming more consolidated to certain parts of the year: winter and early spring. It is all the more important to get water into the ground where it can be stored to provide resilience during the long, hot, dry summer and fall months. The good news is there are ways you can help! Check out our Water Smart Gardening , Water Smart Lawns , and Summertime Watering Tips .

This being said, we are still in the midst of a pandemic—washing your hands for 20 seconds uses very little water compared to outdoor watering and running certain appliances, so please keep washing regularly!

Raw Sewage, Rivers, and the Fight for Clean Water
Big news for our friends on the Merrimack River ! Public pressure against CSOs ( combined sewer overflows —yes, they still happen!) has resulted in a $231 million project and an agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the City of Manchester, NH, which is expected to reduce CSOs by 74% over the next 20 years. An estimated 400 million gallons of sewage is discharged into the Merrimack each year so this announcement is long overdue. 

Meanwhile here at home , thanks to decades of advocacy and legal action by CRWA and our partners, as well as EPA oversight, there are only 10 CSO outfalls remaining, but they still discharge millions of gallons of sewage into the river each year. As MWRA's Long Term Control Plan comes to an end, CRWA is gearing up for the next phase of advocacy to eliminate CSOs in the lower basin once and for all. An important piece of that campaign is increased awareness of CSOs, which is why we are hopeful that in the waning days of the legislative session the legislature will pass a bill requiring public notification of combined sewer overflows.

We are grateful to see such a strong show of support from our own watershed Representatives, including Ruth Balser, Michelle Ciccolo, Mike Connolly, Carolyn Dykema, Nika Elugardo, Sean Garballey, Carmine Gentile, Jonathan Hecht, Kay Khan, David Linsky, Jay Livingstone, Liz Malia, Denise Provost, Dave Rogers, John Rogers, Dan Ryan, and Tommy Vitolo.
News at a Glance
  • In accordance with the MA Department of Public Health, the cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) advisory has finally been rescinded for the Charles River! This cyanobacteria bloom had been lingering since June 25, and might have resulted in a fish kill last week. While our beloved river has come a long way from its infamous Dirty Water days, safe recreation on the Charles is increasingly at risk if we do not address climate change impacts now.

  • Did you catch our first ever virtual Annual Meeting? Our Rita Barron Public Official Awardee, EEA Secretary Katie Theoharides, shared the actions and projects our cities and towns are taking at the local and state levels to prepare for and build resilience to the problems raised by a changing climate. Other honorees include Margaret Van Deusen, Frank O’Brien, Pam Harvey, and X-Cel Conservation Corps. Watch online.

  • The I-90 Allston Multimodal Project presents a unique opportunity to improve conditions along the Charles River in an area where the river has long been degraded. We’re urging MassDOT to consider opportunities for river restoration and climate resilience in this section of the Charles. Learn more.

  • The Trump administration’s drastic rollbacks of one of the country’s most important environmental laws, the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), are now final. CRWA joined over 300 advocacy groups across the U.S. in opposing these changes. We also submitted our own comments defending NEPA in light of its critical role protecting natural resources during major federal projects, including the I-90 Allston Interchange project. This action serves as a sobering reminder that elections directly affect environmental policy.

  • CRWA has again partnered with Citizens Alliance for Noxious weed Eradication (CANoE) and Paddle Boston to remove invasive water chestnut plants from the Charles River Lakes District. CRWA is currently organizing socially-distanced volunteer opportunities for interested community members. If you or your family is interested in volunteering, please contact Space is limited.

  • Good news! In a huge victory for conservation, Congress passed the Great American Outdoors Act, which will permanently fund the federal Land and Water Conservation Fund.

  • Stormwater is the #1 pollutant for urban rivers such as the Charles. A new study recommends: “Prioritize the education of elected officials, professional administrative leaders and the public on the … value of stormwater utilities as a way to lessen the stormwater funding gap.” CRWA did just that in our recent webinar on climate resilience for activists, in which we encouraged our watershed communities to follow the lead of Ashland, Millis, and Newton and establish a stormwater utility in order to have a dedicated source of funding for stormwater infrastructure investments.

  • “The massive collective actions needed to respond to climate change won't shut down the economy like the pandemic—instead, they'll create whole new industries and jobs, and make people healthier and safer.” COVID-19 and Black Lives Matter have spurred real change. Why can’t climate change? Read more.

  • Our river science programs are in full swing this summer, adapted to be socially-distant and safe in the time of a pandemic. We are immensely thankful to the Bilezikian Family Foundation, Hunt Family Foundation’s Next Generation Fund, and Clif Bar Family Foundation for their continued support and funding of these critical programs.

  • We’re also grateful for the support of Brown Advisory, who strives to make a positive impact in the lives of their clients and beyond. We commend them on their new Sustainability Report and look forward to growing this partnership!

  • We’re excited to announce that TripAdvisor continues to support the Charles River and our vital work as a River Champion gala sponsor for this year’s virtual Champions of the Charles Gala. Save the date: Friday, October 15 at 6:00 pm.
We’ve got a couple of goodbyes this month to members of our team! We’re sad to see them go, but wish them all the best in their future pursuits.

“Being the Rita Barron Fellow for this past year has been the most informative and rewarding chapter in my career yet. I’m forever grateful to have worked alongside such strong-minded, intelligent, and hard working women. I’ve fallen in love with the Charles through this experience and now understand why CRWA works so hard to protect it."

Delilah Bethel served as CRWA’s Rita Barron Fellow for the past 16 months, after she completed her Masters in Environmental Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She advanced a groundwater recharge project for the Town of Norfolk, which identified potential green infrastructure locations in the Town Center to provide 36 million gallons of groundwater recharge per year. She also led our Volunteer Monthly Monitoring program, building on our historic water quality data set, and expanded our Habitat Assessment Monitoring program to determine the health of more of the Charles’ tributaries. We’re proud to share that Delilah was hired as the Wildlife Specialist II for the Arizona Game and Fish Department! 

“I enjoyed the work because the projects were worth spending time and effort on. Keeping I-90 out of the river and trying to prevent harmful discharges into water bodies are the kinds of things I wanted to be able to do when I decided to go to law school.”

Mark Finley championed research for many of our advocacy and law projects, including the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project and NPDES permitting. He also wrote memos on federal, state, and local regulations and frameworks and sat in on his first Task Force meeting for I-90. While he worked with us remotely from Bloomington, Indiana, it was great getting to know him this summer over Zoom hangouts and phone calls! We’re looking forward to seeing where his career takes him next.
Get Involved
  • We’re hiring! If you or someone you know is interested in joining our small team as a part-time bookkeeper, we are accepting applications until August 3, 2020. Learn more.

  • Want to be a CRWA Intern or know an exceptional candidate? Fall application period closes tomorrow! Learn more.

  • Paddling season is upon us! Stay safe out there and explore the Charles with a waterproof Canoe and Kayak Guide.

  • Have you seen our new CRWA apparel? Look good while you’re out on the river this summer.

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

  • Most events have been made virtual through the summer. As a science-based organization, we encourage you to keep following CDC-recommendations, like wearing a mask and maintaining a safe social distance from others. We hope you and your family stay safe and healthy during these times!
Charles River Watershed Association |