Mystic River Watershed Earns Barely Passing Grade

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently reported that the Mystic River Watershed received a grade of "C-" for the calendar year of 2009.

“We are proud to have a successful and strong partnership now forged between local citizens all the way up through federal government, with the shared goal of improving water quality in the Mystic River,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “A ‘C-‘is a move in the right direction, but we still have a lot of work to do. By pulling together, we hope to make the Mystic River Watershed one of the most vital, most usable and most valued watersheds in the country.”

The grade indicates that over the past year, water quality met swimming standards 57 percent of the time and boating standards 93 percent of the time. The grade is based on bacterial contamination.

Based on extensive surface water sampling conducted over the past two years, both EPA and the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection have issued a number of enforcement actions in 2009 targeted at improving water quality. Increased enforcement efforts have resulted in the removal of more than 10,000 gallons per day of sewage from storm drains in the Mystic watershed.

"MWRA is pleased to finally be moving forward with major projects to address pollution problems in Alewife Brook," said Frederick A. Laskey, Massachusetts Water Resources Authority executive director. "Working together with the city of Cambridge, we will spend $117 million by 2015 to reduce combined sewer overflows by more than 85 percent from levels a decade ago."

EPA and its partners have put together a 22-member Steering Committee made up of citizen groups, not-for-profit organizations, and municipal representatives, and federal and state agencies. This committee has set its goal as the collaborative effort to both improve water quality in-, and to increase and improve access to-, the Mystic River and its tributaries.

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