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MassDOT Advances I-90 Design; STILL intruding into the Charles
On September 29th, MassDOT announced that they will be advancing a modified At-Grade Option for the Allston I-90 Multi-Modal Project. We are thrilled the project is moving forward as it will be transformative, not only for Allston but for the entire region as it will expand access to the Charles and redevelop an abandoned rail yard into a vibrant neighborhood. 

However, we are dismayed that the plan still entails intrusion into the river. MassDOT claims they have found a way to keep roadway out of the river -- though at the I-90 Task Force meeting they conceded they don’t know exactly how just yet. They say it will still be necessary to build the Paul Dudley White pedestrian and bike path in the river. We absolutely need bike and pedestrian paths, but as we noted in our October 2020 comments, construction of a boardwalk in the river is not a benign intervention. It would have extremely detrimental effects on the ecology of the Charles River, disturbing toxic sediment, causing silt buildup, and blocking sunlight, all of which interferes with plant growth and fish navigation. 

This intrusion would not be necessary if MassDOT would reduce the current total of twelve lanes of traffic that the current design proposes (eight lanes of the Mass Pike and four lanes of Soldiers Field Road) Even pre-pandemic, traffic did not justify maintaining twelve lanes of car travel, and as more companies provide flexible schedules and remote work, there is an even stronger argument for reducing the number of lanes.

Keep in mind, the Mass Pike east of Newton Corner is currently down to six lanes due to an air rights construction project and will be six lanes for years during construction of the I-90 project, so we continue to ask MassDOT for justification for expanding it to eight lanes post-construction, especially when doing so means such detrimental impacts on the health of the Charles River.   
Natural Climate Resilience in the NVSA
Charles River Natural Valley Storage Area

Nature-Based Climate Resilience for Boston & Beyond

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What if we told you there is an easy, natural solution for flood mitigation right in our backyards? Sound too good to be true? Thanks to the advocacy of CRWA’s former Executive Director Rita Barron, the Charles River Natural Valley Storage Area (NVSA) was created to protect the entire watershed from flooding risks.

The NVSA is a network of 8,100 acres of preserved wetlands in sixteen watershed communities with the power to store floodwaters, provide habitat for fish and wildlife, and create fun for anyone who likes boating, fishing, and enjoying nature.  

In August 1955, hurricanes Connie and Diane dumped twenty inches of rain on Boston and neighboring cities and towns, causing $1 billion in damages and over 100,000 people to lose their jobs.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed additional dams along the Charles as a strategy to prevent future catastrophic flooding, but Rita had another idea. She took an Army Corps colonel on a boat ride up the Charles to point out to him the acres of abundant wetlands, which store floodwater during storms. The result is the Charles River Natural Valley Storage Area.

CRWA Awarded $223k for Climate Resilience
We are thrilled to announce that the Baker-Polito Administration has awarded $233,000 to CRWA and nineteen Charles River watershed communities for “Building Resilience Across the Charles River Watershed Phase II”, a collaborative climate resiliency effort, directed by CRWA Deputy Director Julie Wood, that will significantly improve the watershed’s ability to prepare for severe flooding from climate change.

Funding was awarded through the Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness (MVP) program. In the first phase of this project, CRWA worked with watershed municipalities to build the Charles River Flood Model, and this next phase of work entails designing four site-specific flood mitigation projects, and adopting policy tools and resources for implementing nature-based solutions for flood mitigation. For more details visit Charles River Climate Compact
News at a Glance

  • We’re featured on WCVB Chronicle’s exploration of dams in New England. Take a deep dive into everything related to dams— learn about the threat climate change poses to our historic dams and why we advocate for dam removal to restore a clean, free-flowing, resilient Charles River!

  • CRWA Executive Director Emily Norton testified at a recent state legislative hearing on American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to urge support for increased funding to climate resilience including helping communities prepare for, and protect against, extreme weather and its impacts. Thank you to EEA Secretary Katie Theoharides for her strong shoutout for watershed groups at the hearing! 

  • River Science Program Manager Lisa Kumpf was interviewed on WBZ News Radio about CSOs in the Charles in the wake of Hurricane Ida. This storm was a contributing factor toward the 40+ CSOs in the Lower Basin this summer. CSOs, or combined sewer overflows, occur when heavy rain and intense storms cause sewers to overflow into local waterbodies, discharging millions of gallons of sewage combined with stormwater runoff to our waterways. This waste carries pollutants like bacteria, excess nutrients, pharmaceuticals, and PFAS compounds, which wash directly into the Charles. CRWA advances nature-based solutions as a way to reduce stormwater runoff, especially in the wake of more intense storms caused by climate change.

  • Phosphorus pollution and stormwater runoff are among the biggest threats to a clean Charles, causing cyanobacteria blooms and invasive species growth in our heavily urbanized watershed. Read more in Closing the Clean Water Gap from Conservation Law Foundation and learn about the repercussions of over-development and impervious surfaces on our river.
Photo of the Month
Fall is here! Happy Autumn from us at CRWA. We hope you are able to get out and enjoy the foliage this weekend.
Photo Credit: Maury Eldridge
Indigenous Peoples Day
With Indigenous Peoples Day on the horizon, we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge the Indigenous history of the Charles River. The Charles River watershed resides within the land of the Massachusett, Nipmuck, and Wampanoag tribes, and it was stewarded for centuries by the indigenous inhabitants who cared for and protected the river.

This Indigenous Peoples Day, we encourage you to honor and celebrate this history while acknowledging the suffering caused by colonization and oppression that has followed. 

Looking to celebrate Indigenous Peoples Day in your community? Learn how to celebrate & be on the lookout for events in your community. Here are some events happening across the watershed.

Farewell Nishaila & Nancy
CRWA recently said goodbye to two of our team members.

Long-time staffer, Nishaila Porter, left CRWA at the end of August to pursue a graduate degree at Northeastern University. Nishaila joined CRWA in 2015 on our development team where she helped plan many successful Champions of the Charles Galas and other events. Nishaila later became a member of our program staff helping to support and grow our Green Infrastructure Ambassadors program and lead many of our outreach initiatives. Nishaila was the quintessential team player, taking on and excelling at any task she was assigned. She was always willing to lend a helping hand or a listening ear and will be sorely missed at CRWA. 

Nancy Mahon has worked as CRWA’s bookkeeper since 2020, joining our team mid-pandemic and following a transition to an external accounting service. Nancy’s know-how and calm demeanor helped CRWA through a transitional and uncertain time and we will always be grateful for her efforts. Nancy’s quiet efficiency kept CRWA operations running smoothly for the past year and we will miss her!
Thank you to the Clif Family Foundation for their continued support of our River Science programs.

With their generous gift last year, we have been able to collect 380 E. Coli samples, engage 152 volunteers, and track a record-long cyanobacteria bloom. See more results here!

We couldn’t be more grateful for their support!
Welcome Catherine & Interns
We would like to extend a warm welcome to our new Bookkeeper Catherine Booras. Catherine is joining us after running her own small business for many years. We’re very happy to have her on our team! 

And, with the start of fall, a new team of talented interns has joined CRWA. 

Henry Torpey will be serving as a Watershed Science Intern. Henry is a senior at Endicott College studying Environmental Science and is participating in the Semester in the City program this semester. Henry will be working to prioritize future sampling efforts by comparing current sites to gaps in the Integrated List, in addition to helping with all things River Science.

Sylvie Ficco will be acting as CRWA’s GIS Intern. She is a junior at Framingham State University studying GIS and Spatial Analysis. Sylvie will be helping out with our Natural Valley Storage Area project this semester, as well as getting into the field to support the River Science team.

Kensly Germinal will be acting as a Watershed Science Intern. He is currently studying for his Masters' Degree in City Planning & Regional Development and works at the State University of Haiti. Kensly will be working on analyzing data from our Flagging program and writing our final report, in addition to helping out with other River Science programs.
Get Involved
We are excited to celebrate our 9th Annual Champions of the Charles Gala outdoors at the Royal Sonesta Riverview Terrace on Thursday, October 14th at 6 PM. Guests will have the opportunity to mingle on Royal Sonesta’s 3,000 square foot terrace while watching the sunset over the Charles. For our cocktail hour, we will have an open bar with passed hors-d'oeuvres and exquisite food stations. To keep everyone safe, we will not be doing a sit-down meal. Buy your ticket now or consider sponsoring!

Join us! We are hosting a guided tour of Watertown Dam this Saturday. Come walk with us along Charles River Reservation and learn how dam removal could improve fish passage, increase climate resilience, and eliminate the threat of dam failure.
Charles River Watershed Association |
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