Monthly e-news from Charles River Watershed Association, an internationally-recognized leader in sustainable river management. Learn more at .  
Around the Watershed
Public Health Victory: Live CSO Notifications in the Charles
After many years of fighting for real-time notification of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into the Charles River, we are happy to report that MWRA and the City of Cambridge will be required to alert the public of all CSO discharges into the Charles.

CSOs are discharges of partially or fully untreated sewage (aka - poop) mixed with stormwater into the river, and they occur during times of exceptionally heavy or intense precipitation. Beginning in 2021, MWRA and the City of Cambridge will implement a CSO notification system to provide alerts within 4 hours of becoming aware of a CSO discharge (and in no event more than 12 hours after the discharge begins). While we will continue to fight for elimination of CSOs, this is a major victory for CRWA and the Charles River in the meantime. 

Right now, there is no general public notification requirement for CSO discharges in Massachusetts, meaning that people using rivers for recreation, downstream communities, and the general public usually don’t know that there might be a health risk present. State legislation championed by CRWA and its partners will improve upon the variance’s CSO alert notification system by instituting a statewide sewage discharge notification system that issues alerts within 2 hours of CSO discharges, and enhance other methods of public notification. This legislation will also require notification for rivers statewide, not just the Charles. A notification system is only truly effective if it provides alerts as CSOs are happening, letting people know whether our rivers are safe.  

CRWA currently helps spread awareness about CSOs through our Water Quality Notification Program . However, presently we are only made aware when a CSO occurs at one of the ten CSO outfalls discharging to the Charles. This new requirement is a victory for public health.
Advocating Against I-90 Intrusion into the River
It was announced in late spring that the I-90 Allston Multimodal Project proposed a temporary structure to support Soldiers Field Road and the Paul Dudley White Path that would extend into the Charles River near the BU Bridge. The temporary bridge would remain for 8-10 years during the I-90 and Storrow Drive reconstruction. While CRWA supports Secretary Pollack’s selection of the hybrid alternative design, we are very concerned that the temporary structure would result in severe disruption of the Charles River for a ten-year period. We, along with the Charles River Conservancy, Conservation Law Foundation, WalkBoston, MassBike, TransitMatters, and others, oppose construction of the temporary mid-river highway until MassDOT provides sufficient documentation of impacts, alternatives and appropriate mitigation. Read more about this issue in our joint comment letter to the MassDOT Fiscal Management Control Board.
Barr Foundation Grant: On the Front Lines of Climate Action
CRWA is the proud recipient of a $150,000 grant from the Barr Foundation for its work to advance climate resilience. This grant will be used to fund our Climate Resilience 101 Trainings for elected municipal officials. Cities and towns are on the front lines of dealing with the impacts of climate change and protecting their residents from the effects of extreme heat, intense rainfall, and more. These sessions will provide information and resources for elected and appointed municipal officials to help them address many climate related challenges through nature based solutions. Nature-based solutions work with and enhance natural systems, like trees and wetlands, to help communities adapt to climate impacts. Additionally, communities cannot act in a vacuum, as the actions of one community will have impacts on neighboring or downstream communities; therefore, CRWA is bringing a critical watershed approach to the conversation of climate adaptation. Please encourage your elected officials to attend the next training on November 16th. Thanks to the Barr Foundation for funding this important work!
A River Resurgent: $10M "Campaign for the Charles River"
On the evening of Thursday, September 19 at the Museum of Science’s Washburn Pavilion, over 100 of Charles River’s dedicated supporters gathered to celebrate CRWA at the Champions of the Charles Gala. It was a perfect evening to advance our mission and announce the largest campaign in the organization's history: the Campaign for the Charles River . During the initial, quiet phase of the Campaign, CRWA raised over $5 million in gifts and pledges, and an additional $1.3 million in bequests, for a total commitment of $6.3 million. This financial support includes leadership gifts from Bob and Lee Sproull, Linda and Andy McLane, and the Eaglemere Foundation. 

The Campaign consists of three parts: the Action Fund, Project Fund, and the Endowment Fund. The Action and Project Funds support CRWA’s innovative science-based projects, while the Endowment safeguards a strong future for CRWA by providing unrestricted funds each year.

Already, the Campaign has enabled CRWA to successfully advocate for a better I-90 Allston Multimodal Project design, monitor the river for cyanobacteria, and participate in climate adaptation planning initiatives in Milford, Millis, Dedham, Boston, Cambridge, and Somerville to ensure green infrastructure and nature-based solutions are employed as adaptation tools. It has empowered CRWA with three strengths—stability, boldness, and nimbleness—to ensure the Charles thrives for years to come. Read more in our press release or get involved ! In order to meet our $10M goal we will need the support of everyone who loves the Charles River and values our work to protect it.
News to Use
Bringing Nature Back into our Environment
CRWA Executive Director Emily Norton partnered with Public Policy Director Rev. Vernon Walker to discuss the crucial need for more nature-based solutions to climate change impacts, especially in developed areas along the coast and other waterbodies. These solutions include restoring forests, conserving wetlands, factoring public health and safety into development plans, and more. Read the full article here .
Brookline Releases Open Space and Recreation Plan
The Brookline Conservation Commission and the Parks and Open Space Division released an updated Open Space and Recreation Plan . When done well, municipal open space plans can help preserve a town’s natural resources, as well as lead to investments in climate resilience. We are proud of our own Pallavi Kalia Mande, CRWA Director of Watershed Resilience, who serves as a Brookline Conservation Commissioner and Co-Chair of its Open Space and Recreation Plan Committee, for her work helping to shape the plan

Supporting an Equitable and Resilient Future
Boston City Councilor Michelle Wu is calling for the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA, formerly the BRA) to be abolished and replaced with a planning agency that is more equitable, transparent, and focused on ensuring that the benefits of development are applied to all residents, not only the politically-connected. CRWA shares these concerns, especially when we note that climate resilience is still a voluntary checklist for development projects in Boston, which was recently ranked #8 in a list of the world’s most vulnerable coastal cities . With climate change bringing more frequent flooding and extreme heat, we need to restore nature where possible in urban areas, and that will only happen when those who are making development decisions are held accountable to the public. Learn more .
Upcoming Events
Franklin 2050: The Climate Crisis | Thursday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m.
A free educational Franklin community-wide forum on the Climate Crisis, a subject you may have questions about, will be held Thursday, October 17, 2019, from 7- 9pm at Elks Lodge, 1077 Pond Street, Franklin, MA. 02038. This is a unique opportunity for the community to discover the causes, effects, and solutions as they pertain to our community. Discover why the issue is an emergency, and what can be done to reduce the dangers that the climate crisis poses to your family and children. Learn more.

Clean Muddy Forum | Thursday, October 24 at 6:30 p.m.
Join small group workshops at the Fenway Community Center to develop climate resilient projects that support a clean Muddy River and healthier communities. This forum is called "From Source to Charles," featuring speakers Senator William Brownsberger, Emily Norton, and Cassandra Koutalidis. Learn more.

Climate Resilience 101 | Saturday, November 16 at 12:00 p.m.
This training is part of a series of afternoon briefings CRWA is offering for municipal elected officials to discuss what is coming in terms of weather-related threats to their communities, and to share ideas about concrete actions that can be taken to reduce these impacts. Community leaders in the Charles River watershed will be invited to continue a watershed-focused resilience conversation beyond this initial informational session.  Learn more .

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