Monthly e-news from Charles River Watershed Association, an internationally-recognized leader in sustainable river management. Learn more at .  
Action Alert
Dear MassDOT: No Roads in the River!
MassDOT is gearing up to replace the Allston viaduct, which carries the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) from the Allston Interchange to the Commonwealth Avenue Bridge. This $1B project entails straightening the Mass Pike, which will enable improvements to the Paul Dudley White Path and Charles River Parkland as well increased public transit in the form of a new “West Station” commuter rail stop. CRWA supports these aspects of the project. What we do NOT support is MassDOT’s stated plan to relocate Soldiers Field Road (SFR) and the Paul Dudley White path into the Charles River (on fill, a bridge, or both) during project construction, which is anticipated to last 8-10 years. Environmental impacts to the river would include disruption of sediment contaminated with heavy metals and toxic chemicals; increased stormwater runoff leading to more toxic algae blooms; and harm to the aquatic ecosystem including fish, birds, and wildlife. (Read our op-ed with Charles River Conservancy and Community Rowing.)
To date, MassDOT has not demonstrated any analysis of these impacts nor alternatives to moving the road into the river. Note that relocation of SFR into the river was not included in MassDOT Secretary Pollack’s January 2019 decision announcing the preferred design alternative—which we supported. This is to say: the environmental impacts of putting a road in the river have never been considered or addressed by regulators.
Around the Watershed
Partnering with Cities and Towns for a Resilient Future
On November 16 CRWA led our second Climate Resilience 101 training for local elected and appointed officials at the Dedham Historical Society. The event kicked off with State Senator Michael Rush and State Rep. Paul McMurtry thanking attendees for taking time out of their Saturdays to learn more about how to protect their communities in an era of climate change. Officials from Cambridge, Dedham, Dover, Hopkinton, Millis, Needham, Newton, Sherborn, Walpole, and Westwood attended, and we covered nature-based solutions, green infrastructure, the power of wetlands bylaws and stormwater utilities, the importance of taking a watershed approach, and more. Read more .

In October and November, CRWA joined community leaders from Medway, Wellesley, Dedham, and Weston in four separate workshops for the Commonwealth’s Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program . Municipal representatives from town departments including Police, Fire, Planning, Public Works, Public Health and others, as well as community stakeholders such as CRWA, are brought together to identify vulnerabilities to climate change. To date CRWA has attended more than a dozen of these workshops and we are partnering with 3 communities on subsequent MVP Action Grants to implement climate resilience projects. All Massachusetts municipalities are eligible to apply for this grant program . Once planning is complete, towns become MVP communities and are eligible for state-funded action grants to implement solutions. We applaud the Baker Administration for its foresight in creating this important program, and look forward to working with the legislature to ensure it continues to have sufficient funding to meet communities’ needs.
Cleaning that Dirty Water: More Good News on CSOs
Last month we reported on new requirements for real-time notification of combined sewer overflows (CSOs) into the Charles River. There is more good news: thanks to CRWA’s advocacy, MassDEP is now requiring the City of Cambridge to investigate green infrastructure (GI) as a way to mitigate CSOs. Cambridge has already implemented some GI projects but there is much more they could do, especially as climate change brings more storms that trigger CSO events. 
Catch up with CRWA
Geeking out over Water Quality Standards
Massachusetts “Surface Water Quality Standards” implements provisions of the federal Clean Water Act, which protects the nation's waters. These standards designate the most sensitive uses of Massachusetts waters and provide criteria for evaluating water quality to support those uses. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) is in the process of reviewing and updating water quality standards; s cience is constantly evolving, and it’s important that water quality standards reflect what we’ve learned, so that they can effectively protect our water resources. Our suggestions included better alignment with other environmental agencies’ regulations, detailed comments on proposed changes to bacteria standards, and requests that MassDEP develop numeric nutrient criteria and cyanobacteria limit criteria to protect the Charles and other water bodies. It may not sound sexy, but it’s important work to protect the river we love. We worked with a coalition of watershed associations across the state, led by the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, to increase our impact. See our comments here .

Another plus: updating these standards could protect us from federal rollbacks on environmental protections (like Section 401 in the Clean Water Act—see below!).
Protecting the Right to Clean Water
In line with countless anti-environmental actions to date since 2017, the Trump Administration has launched another attack on the Clean Water Act. CRWA joined the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance and others to submit a comment letter to US EPA Administrator Wheeler in opposition to changes proposed to Section 401 of the Clean Water Act. Currently, Section 401 requires states’ and tribes’ certification that projects with Federal permits will not have an adverse impact on the quality of waterways. The proposed changes would rollback the states’ and tribes’ authority and ability to conduct effective reviews.
More Plants, Less Problems: Training GI Ambassadors
CRWA recently hosted another set of Green Infrastructure (GI) Ambassador trainings with the X-Cel Education Boston Conservation Corps . Pairing the history of the Charles River watershed with the exemplary water quality programs of CRWA, our Program Associate, Nishaila Porter, and Aquatic Scientist, Lisa Kumpf, introduced ways that green infrastructure can address issues like stormwater, flooding, and air quality, while enhancing community safety and quality of life. The new GI Ambassadors toured the Ellis Elementary School playground to see green infrastructure in action.

This training was developed with funding from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts.
Presenting, Testifying, and Sharing Solutions
  • Our Deputy Director Julie Wood recently presented on the “Flood Control Benefits of small GI Systems” at the “Grey to Green” conference in Washington, D.C. 
  • At the Black Economic Council of Massachusetts Mass Black Expo: Independence Weekend event, Program Associate Nishaila Porter discussed Climate Resilience Planning for Businesses with a focus on the Boston area.
  • On October 29 our Executive Director, Emily Norton, testified to the Mass. State Legislature's Environment & Natural Resources Committee in support of a bill that would make it easier to limit nonessential water use during drought, such as the severe drought of 2016, which caused some rivers and tributaries to run dry. Having the authority to protect water resources is very important as droughts will occur more frequently in our future (thank you, climate change!). We are grateful to our allies who also testified: Gabby Queenan from Mass. Rivers Alliance, Wayne Castonguay from Ipswich River Watershed Association, and Fred Jennings from Trout Unlimited. 
  • Our Director of Watershed Resilience, Pallavi Kalia Mande, spoke about CRWA’s Blue Cities Initiative at the Mass ECAN conference. Using historic maps as a starting point to understand how rainwater once functioned before urbanization, Blue Cities analysis evaluates opportunities for restoration that work with, rather than against, natural hydrology.
  • Also at Mass ECAN, our Aquatic Scientist Lisa Kumpf presented on "A Watershed-Wide View of Urban Ecosystems Resilience.” She discussed four projects as examples of different ways to take a watershed-scale view of urban ecosystem resilience; this kind of thinking is crucial to our Climate Resilience 101 series for Municipalities, as it stresses communication between upstream and downstream cities and towns, who can solve (or cause) problems for each other.
Upcoming Events
Building Climate Resilience into Infrastructure | Friday, Nov. 22 at 7:30 a.m.
The undeniable reality of climate change has forced planners of infrastructure projects to design for increased temperatures, wind and water in the near future and farther on. This forum presents speakers grappling with how to incorporate climate resilience into planning, financing and maintaining infrastructure systems. Learn more.

Cold Spring Park: A Green Oasis | Monday, Nov. 25 at 7:00 p.m.
On Monday, November 25 at 7pm at the Newton Free Library (330 Homer St., Newton), Green Newton’s speaker series program "Cold Spring Park: A Green Oasis in the Heart of Newton" will feature two experts discussing Cold Spring Park. Learn more.

Green Newton's "Meatless & Greet" | Thursday, Dec. 12 at 6:00 p.m.
Did you know that eating less meat is not only a way for individuals to add healthy ingredients to their diet, but also a way to fight climate change? Green Newton invites you to join us for a vegetarian potluck dinner.  Learn m ore .

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