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upcoming events

Sept 10
Water Trouble Forum, 7PM
Winn Brook School, 97 Waterhouse Rd, Belmont

Sept 12
Mare Liberum journey down the Mystic, 11AM

Sept 14
Friends of the Malden River meeting, 6:30PM
Cambridge Health Alliance, 195 Canal St, Malden

Sept 15
Flatbread Pizza Doughraiser, 5PM-11PM
45 Day St, Somerville, MA

Sept 19
Canoe Tour (free!), 9AM
Mystic Wellington Yacht Club, Medford
Register today

Sept 22
Blessing of the Bay, Somerville

Oct 6
Committee Meeting, 7-9PM
Arlington Town Hall, 730 Massachusetts Avenue, Arlington - Selectmen's Hearing Room, 2nd floor


Environmental justice refers to disproportionate environmental burdens borne along racial, ethnic and economic lines. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines Environmental Justice asthe fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies. EPA has this goal for all communities and persons across this Nation. It will be achieved when everyone enjoys the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards and equal access to the decision-making process to have a healthy environment in which to live, learn, and work.”

The Mystic River Watershed is home to about 8% of the Commonwealth's population - 500,000 people - yet covers less than 1% of the land, making the Watershed one of the most densely populated and urban watersheds in the state.

Eight out of the fifteen Massachusetts communities considered "most intensely overburdened" by cumulative environmental hazards lie within the Mystic River Watershed, according to Environmental Justice research. (Faber, 2005) Environmental hazards within the watershed include hazardous waste sites, transfer stations, landfills, incinerators, polluting industrial facilities, and power plants.  The watershed is further impacted by impervious surface (such as parking lots and buildings), limited green space and limited access to the waterfront.  Additionally, within the Mystic River Watershed, 2005 average income levels varied from $156,440 (Winchester) to $34,086 (Chelsea). (IRS)

The Mystic River Watershed Association works with environmental justice communities to provide education about water quality issues that may affect them, as well as advocate for responsible development in these communities. 

MyRWA's Lower Mystic Initiative works in East Boston and Chelsea, both of which are environmental justice communities.

As part of the Mystic River Corridor Strategy Project, the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) developed an Environmental Justice Map, seen below.

Courtesy MAPC

Check out the EPA's interactive environmental justice map: EJView.

Partnering organizations that address environmental justice issues within the Mystic River Watershed include:

For more information and to view a ranking of all Massachusetts towns in terms of environmental justice see: Daniel Faber and Eric Krieg, Unequal Exposure to Ecological Hazards 2005: Environmental Injustices in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts (October 12, 2005).

The Northeastern Environmental Justice Research Collaborative provides more information as well.

View the EPA's Environmental Justice webpage here.


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