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The Latest on the I-90 Allston Interchange Project
We were very pleased to see strong words from MassDOT about protecting the Charles River during and after construction of the I-90 project at their August 24 Board meeting:

“... one of MassDOT’s guiding principles will be to avoid and minimize long term or permanent impact to the Charles River; indeed, to avoid all impacts if possible. MassDOT believes that any permanent impact or encroachment into the river is inappropriate if there is an alternative that meets the project’s purpose and need and avoids or further minimizes such impact. We are also fully committed to ensuring that the selected alternative ensures the treatment of all runoff to safeguard this vital resource.”

We continue to believe that the best way to accomplish all of the project’s priorities, without harming the Charles River, is to reduce the overall number of traffic lanes in the throat area near Boston University. This approach would allow for an at-grade version of the project—which many stakeholders support—while creating enough space along the river for cyclists and pedestrians. Expanding public transit options would alleviate the need for so much roadway in this constrained area, while also accommodating commuters and furthering the state’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) supported this approach in a letter to MassDOT earlier this week.

While the configuration of the various transportation elements is very important, Pallavi Kalia Mande, CRWA’s Director of Watershed Resilience, has also been working in partnership with a team of urban designers and landscape architects on riverbank restoration strategies. In addition to helping the design team led by Kishore Varanasi (CBT Architects) and Gautam Sundaram (Perkins and Will), Pallavi has also reached out to the Boston Society of Architects (BSA) and the Boston Society of Landscape Architects (BSLA) to help create a design framework for river restoration that could drive the overall project design/planning at a (sub) watershed scale. This framework would include: environmental goals and ecological strategies for riverbank restoration; land-based green infrastructure strategies to treat polluted stormwater; improvements to ecological health and aquatic habitat; and reduced risk from precipitation based flooding (especially to the Allston-Brighton neighborhood). Our ultimate goal is to see a final project that meets the region’s evolving transportation needs, that is climate resilient, and that protects and restores the Charles River. Learn more.
News at a Glance
  • This summer’s heat and low streamflow (due to drought conditions) have contributed to many cyanobacteria blooms in our watershed. Here are current advisories:
  • Lower Basin: Observed between New Charles River Dam to Mass Ave Bridge
  • Lakes District (Newton, Weston, Waltham): Observed between Wares Cove and Fox Island
  • Hardy Pond (Waltham)
  • You can access this information any time, updated each Friday.
  • Want to help monitor cyanobacteria blooms? Get involved in our pilot volunteer program.

  • We won’t sugar coat it: cyanobacteria blooms are getting worse on the Charles River, and it’s largely due to phosphorus pollution. The good news is that EPA is considering options under the Clean Water Act to reduce stormwater pollution entering the river in response to a petition filed by CRWA and Conservation Law Foundation (CLF). With large industrial, commercial, and high-density residential properties contributing 50% of the stormwater pollution load despite making up only 20% of the watershed land area, it is clear we need a new system. Learn more.

  • Since our last newsletter, EEA Secretary Katie Theoharides has extended the Level 2 - Significant Drought to include all regions across the Commonwealth. The drought is due to above average temperatures and more than three months of below average rainfall. What you do in this time matters: habitats, towns, and businesses are all competing for the same limited water resources. CRWA recommends curbing your outdoor water use to once a week to reduce stress on water bodies, and many towns have already put similar restrictions in place.

  • CRWA is working with the Town of Wrentham to assess the feasibility of removing Eagle Dam, an outdated structure in poor condition that presents a hazard to downstream residents and infrastructure, and is detrimental to local wildlife. Read more about the history, current conditions, and feasibility assessment.

  • The City of Boston is proposing to remove over 100 mature trees along Melnea Cass Boulevard in Lower Roxbury, an environmental justice community that already experiences severe heat island impacts. In addition to their cooling benefits, mature trees improve air quality, filter stormwater, provide wildlife habitat, and mitigate flooding. Local residents are calling for the City to hold a public hearing before removing the trees, a standard procedure in many affluent communities. Join CRWA, along with over 5,000 individuals and a diverse coalition of organizations, in standing with the Melnea Cass trees and community by signing this petition.

  • Get ready for a virtual experience that will bring you to the banks of the Charles River: learn what it is about the Charles River that people love and cherish; gain a better understanding of why CRWA’s work is so crucial in the fight to protect and preserve the Charles and its watershed communities; and become inspired about the opportunities to restore natural hydrology within the urban environment and promote environmental equity as we confront a changing climate. Join us Thursday, October 15 at 6:00 pm for the first virtual Champions of the Charles gala and check out our Silent Auction preview (including a Hydrow)!
Intern Spotlight
Left to right: Alex Colety, Morgan O'Grady.
It’s that time again when we have to say farewell to those who have helped CRWA run smoothly! We’re sad to see them go, but wish them all the best in their future pursuits. 

“Coming out of my year with CRWA, I know that the practical skills and insight into the environmental world that I've gained will continue to serve me well into the future. I'm so thankful for all the great experiences and people I've gotten to work with. In my time here, I've been continuously impressed by what this organization can do thanks to the dedication and passion of the staff who just get out there and make things happen.”

Alex Colety supported CRWA’s fundraising and outreach efforts as our part-time Development and Communications Assistant. He had initially joined us as a watershed science intern in fall 2019, and we were lucky to have his sharp eyes and hard work over this spring and summer. We are so thankful for his time here, and look forward to what comes next!

“I loved getting the opportunity to deeply research one topic—the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act.  Both that knowledge and a better understanding of the role of counsel in a small nonprofit will be incredibly helpful as I continue to pursue environmental law."

Morgan O’Grady assisted our law and advocacy work as a legal intern this summer by developing internal and external guides to the MEPA review process. She championed research using secondary sources, statutes, regulations, and other articles online, gaining an in-depth understanding of MEPA, which she looks forward to applying to her future endeavors.
Left to right: Shailee Desai, Christopher LaRosee, and Andrew Taylor.
“I want to make a career in the field of coastal resilience and learn how geospatial   technologies can help in protecting coastal communities from sea level rise. This internship provided me with valuable experience and knowledge about new applications of ArcGIS to study climate resilience on various projects in the watershed.”

Shailee Desai finished her GIS internship with us this summer, where she learned new skills and further mastered others, creating ArcGIS maps, writing reports, managing data, and conducting background research. She provided assistance in various projects, playing a key role in our Cheesecake Brook Restoration work and the I-90 Allston Interchange Project.

“I enjoyed developing a stronger relationship with the river and taking action on issues that are very important to me. I am now looking into PhD programs, many of which are related to aquatic resource management.”

Christopher LaRosee, one of our summer watershed science interns, assisted with a variety of our River Science programs, including conducting an invasive water chestnut survey, sampling E. coli for our Flagging Program, and even designing an app for our new pilot Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program! Volunteers are now able to send visual assessments of toxic blue-green algae through this app, allowing CRWA to expand its reach on the river. 

“The Flagging Program was a favorite of mine because it was an excuse to get out on the river early in the morning and watch the city come alive. I really enjoyed my work with this watershed organization and in the future would love to work to protect the area in which I live.”

Andrew Taylor managed many of our field programs this summer as a watershed science intern. He conducted E. Coli sampling and data analysis for our Flagging Program and monitored cyanobacteria blooms in coordination with the MA Department of Health. Andrew also championed research for our Genzyme NPDES comment letter and assisted with volunteer management for our Volunteer Monthly Monitoring program and Habitat Assessments.
Get Involved
  • The Muddy Water Initiative is looking for volunteers! A two-hour commitment is needed to empty trash and debris from the WATERGOAT, located on the Muddy River in the heart of Boston between the Back Bay and Kenmore Square. Your help can make a difference! There are long-term and last-minute opportunities available: contact George Ruci at to get involved today.

  • What #MADroughtLooksLike is up to you—help us document low streamflow and water level by sending photos, videos, and observations with a location name and date to

  • 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 |