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April 26
Mystic Community Earth Day events throughout watershed!
MyRWA Earth Day Cleanup with KEEN Footwear, 9AM, Blessing of the Bay Boathouse, 32 Shore Drive, Somerville 

May 6
Committee Meeting, 7-9PM
Tufts University, Lincoln Filene Center, Rabb Room
*Presentation by MyRWA on water chestnut plan for 2014

May 13
Flatbread Pizza Doughraiser, 5-11PM
Flatbread Pizza, 45 Day Street, Somerville

May 18
Mystic River Herring Run & Paddle, 8AM registration, 9AM 5K start, 11AM paddling races start
Blessing of the Bay Boathouse, 32 Shore Drive, Somerville

May 20
Friends of the Malden River Meeting, 6:30-8PM
Malden Public Library, Maccario Room, 36 Salem St, Malden


Giving Back on Earth Day

To celebrate Earth Day (April 22nd) a group of Bank of America volunteers helped revitalize a rain garden in Arlington. Dawning red T-shirts and work gloves, the group dug an 8” trench to be filled with gravel to curb erosion in the garden, as well as raked, weeded and pruned the site. The rain garden was planted in May 2013 through a grant from National Fish and Wildlife Foundation's 5 Star Restoration Program, and serves to collect, absorb and clean stormwater runoff from the parking lot at the Hardy Elementary School. The volunteers participated through Bank of America’s Global Impact initiative, which logged over 1.5 million employee hours of volunteerism in 2012. The Mystic River Watershed Association would like to thank the volunteers, Bank of America and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for their support! Be sure to check out the rain garden at the Hardy School at 52 Lake Street, Arlington.

Read more about rain gardens here.

View photos of the event on FlickR!

Earth Day Rain Garden Maintenance 2014


Support MyRWA by using Amazon Smile

How does AmazonSmile work? When first visiting AmazonSmile, customers are prompted to select a charitable organization from almost one million eligible organizations. In order to browse or shop at AmazonSmile, customers must first select a charitable organization. For eligible purchases at AmazonSmile, the AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price to the customer’s selected charitable organization.

Mystic River Watershed Association.

What's up with water chestnuts in the Mystic River?

Come hear from Patrick Herron, PhD, Water Quality Monitoring Director at the Mystic River Watershed Association on Tuesday, May 6th to learn about plans for water chestnut removal work on the Mystic this summer. You've likely seen this invasive plant on the river for the past several years - forming a mat at the water’s surface that impedes boating and damages the health of the river. We'll find out what has been accomplished in the past and what plans are for 2014 water chestnut removal efforts. This event is part of the Association's monthly Committee Meeting and is free and open to the public.
For more information about the Mystic River Watershed Association's water chestnut removal project see:

Please join us!
Tuesday, May 6th, 7-8PM
Tufts University, Lincoln Filene Center, Rabb Room

Questions? Call 781-316-3438.


Soap Up the Rain Arlington! Presentation April 8th

Arlington Engineering Division continues to host its Stormwater Awareness Series. To kick off the 2014 season, the session will detail the “Soak Up The Rain” program. Anne Leiby and Cindy Brown work at the US EPA Region 1 office in Boston. Along with other EPA colleagues they are responsible for the development and implementation of the EPA Soak Up the Rain stormwater campaign in New England. The presentation will be held on April 8th 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Arlington Town Hall, Selectmen's Hearing Room, 2nd floor. For additional information on the Arlington Stormwater Awareness series, including links to ACMi online archives of past sessions please visit


Announcing MyRWA’s Corporate Volunteer Water Chestnut Program!

Volunteers from IBM help remove water chestnuts.The Mystic River Watershed Association has a unique opportunity for your business, church or community group. We are seeking groups of up to 100 to help us remove water chestnut, an invasive plant, from the Mystic River while offering a fun team-building day!

The Need

Water chestnut is an invasive plant that has recently exploded in the Mystic River. It forms huge stands that impede boats and have negative effects on fish, native plants, and water quality. Managing water chestnut is a major goal of river front towns and cities, boat clubs, river advocates, and citizen groups.

The Opportunity

One of the most effective ways to remove water chestnut is also fun! A four-hour event with 25-100 people in canoes can have a tremendous effect, clearing acres of this invasive plant. By sponsoring a corporate event, your company can participate in a major green initiative while providing a great team-building opportunity and rewarding day on the river for your employees. We have worked with many organizations and companies over the past four years, including IBM, FedEx and Citizens Bank, and supply all the materials and expertise necessary.

The Impact

In four years, hundreds of volunteers have removed thousands of baskets of water chestnut, clearing many acres of the river. We are aiming to expand our efforts every year. Studies have shown that the key to ultimate success in management is sustained effort at the same site over several years. Join us this year to help us meet our goals!

For More Information

Elizabeth Glivinski, Water Chestnut Project Coordinator,, 781-316-3438.


Into the Mystic: Environmental Art and Film Festival

The Medford Arts Center (MACI) is seeking artists of various media for the first annual juried “Into the Mystic” Environmental Art and Film Festival for June 20-22, 2014 which will be held at Hyatt Place, 116 Riverside Ave, Medford. The festival is a collaboration of MACI, Green Medford, Mystic River Watershed Association, The City of Medford’s Office of Energy and Environment, and the Friends of the Mystic River.

The theme of the art is “the Mystic River” in any season. It can be representational, literal, or use found materials from the river area. Each artist may submit two pieces by April 15th. For a registration form contact Mike Oliver at or 617-605-7325.

Schedule of Events

  • Thursday, June 19th, 3 - 7PM, preview at Circle the Square in Medford Square.
  • Friday, June 20th, 6 - 9PM, opening night reception with films Hidden Rivers of Southern Appalachia, Re-storying the Anacostia River, and The Mystic Unseen.
  • Saturday, June 21st, 7PM, Featured Film: The Mystic Herring Run: The Return of 2012 and Beyond, with filmmaker Shervin A. Arya.

Art will be exhibited in the Hyatt Place Lobby and Screening Rooms from June 20-22. Admission is free to all events.

The organizers would like to express our appreciation to the Hyatt Place for donating the space for this special event and for its continued support of the Medford community.


Panel on Stormwater Draws a Crowd

On Saint Patrick’s Day eve over 50 people gathered in the Malden Library to hear about innovative ways to address stormwater runoff in the Commonwealth. The panel presentation brought together the three Boston area watershed groups representing the Mystic, Neponset and Charles Rivers, as well as an environmental engineer. Hosted by the Mystic River Watershed Association and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC), many project stories, lessons learned and challenges were shared.

Stormwater runoff represents one of the largest sources of pollution in urban areas such as the metro Boston region. While rainfall is relatively clean, stormwater picks up pollutant material on road surfaces, lawns and parking lots and delivers it to nearby water bodies. The result is that many of the water bodies we care about are contaminated with fecal bacteria, nutrients and cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) blooms, often making them unsafe to swim in or boat on.

One way to capture and treat some of this stormwater is by utilizing a stormwater Best Management Practice (BMP) or retrofit. These structures include rain gardens, vegetated swales, tree box filters, permeable pavement, and curb extensions. BMPs are designed to reduce stormwater volume, peak flows, and/or nonpoint source pollution through evapotranspiration, infiltration, detention, and filtration.

Patrick Herron, Water Quality Monitoring Director at the Mystic River Watershed Association kicked-off the presentations by detailing the project process the Association has taken with initiating stormwater BMP design. In Chelsea, the Association partnered closely with the Chelsea Collaborative and Charles River Watershed Association to build community involvement. The goal of the project was to both address stormwater and improve the aesthetics of the street to make it a more “livable street.” Community engagement was a high priority for this project, and included public meetings, design charrettes and utilizing youth to help assess possible sites and educate the community about the project.  Herron stated, “It’s helpful to identify a local champion for projects – someone who knows the community and is excited about the project. This person, we have found, can be essential in gathering support and enthusiasm for projects and really helping us to open doors in a community.”  For more information on the Mystic River Watershed Association’s stormwater projects see

Heading south to the Charles River Watershed Association, Pallavi Kalia Mande, Director of Blue Cities©, presented on several stormwater Best Management Practices that they have undertaken. Their Blue Cities© program uses water centric urban design that aims to restore urban greenscapes and natural hydrologic function. The Association has implemented this approach across the subwatershed, neighborhood, and site-specific scale. For more information on the Charles River Watershed Association’s Blue Cities© program see

Ian Cooke, Executive Director at the Neponset River Watershed Association highlighted their involvement in the construction of a wetland to treat road runoff, as well as the installation of fourteen tree box filters.  The Association has worked with a number of towns to locate the best locations to install stormwater BMP retrofits - typically working with the DPW, Engineering and Conservation Commission staff to make recommendations for BMPs. They place an emphasis on publicly-owned locations as potential BMP locations. For more information on the Neponset River Watershed Association’s stormwater projects see

Finally, Tom Pawlina, Principal at ATP Environmental wrapped up the presentation component of the night. Tom has been involved with stormwater mitigation for over 12 years in Duxbury and Kingston in Cape Cod Bay. Much of this work began out of the concern of the health of oysters, which are grown in the Bay.

The Boston area continues to implement innovative ways to treat stormwater runoff. Through this presentation, local watershed associations were able to share their experiences with the public as well as with each other. In all four presentations, emphasis was made on having clear and regular communications with project partners and city or town staff and to expect delays in your project. With the forecast of more frequent and intense storms, as well as expanding impervious areas, addressing stormwater through Best Management Practices is an essential aspect of caring for our shared water resources.


Calling all volunteers - Mystic Community Earth Day!

For the 5th year in a row, community groups from throughout the watershed are joining forces to coordinate Mystic Community Earth Day. Earth day is April 22nd, and many stewardship events are scheduled for Saturday, April 26th. Lend a hand to beautify your local environment – volunteers are needed to accomplish this work. Find an event in your community here!

MyRWA is partnering with the City of Somerville, Groundwork Somerville, Gentle Giant Rowing Club and KEEN Footwear to host a river clean-up on Saturday, April 26th from 9 a.m. until noon. Please join us at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse, 32 Shore Drive, Somerville. All supplies will be provided. Parking will be permitted on Shore Drive for this event. RSVP and share this event on Facebook!


Flatbread Pizza Fundraiser Set For May 13

Enjoy Pizza and Bowling for a Cause!

On Tuesday, May 13  head to Flatbread Pizza at Sacco's Bowl Haven in Davis Square for a Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) fundraiser. That’s right, the more flatbread you eat the more money will be raised to support the Mystic River Watershed Association and our efforts to protect and restore the Mystic River Watershed!

Eat at or get take-out from Flatbread Pizza, 45 Day Street, Somerville, between 5pm and 11pm and a portion of your flatbread cost will automatically be donated to MyRWA.

Reservations are accepted for groups of 10 or more.

RSVP to this event on Facebook.


DCR Mystic River Master Plan Update (2/28/14)

Thanks to the efforts of Mystic River legislators and the swift action of many of our members and friends, the following officials have pledged support for a requested $250,000 increase to DCR’s FY15 Operating Budget. Senators Pat Jehlen, Sal DiDomenico, Will Brownsberger, and Ken Donnelly have signed on to this initiative, as well as Representatives Paul Donato, Denise Provost, Dave Rogers, Jason Lewis, James Dwyer, Paul Brodeur, Carl Sciortino, Tim Toomey and Sean Garballey. There is still time to ask your State Senator and State Representative to make funding for the Mystic River Master Plan one of their top ten budget priorities. You can find your State Senator and Representative here.

Read more about the Mystic River Master Plan here.




On Monday, March 17th please join MyRWA and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) for a forum to hear about stormwater retrofits in the Boston area. You’ll have the chance to hear from the three Boston area watershed associations, as well from the engineering perspective. Panelists include MyRWA’s Patrick Herron; Pallavi Kalia Mande, Director of Blue Cities at the Charles River Watershed Association; Ian Cooke, Executive Director at the Neponset River Watershed Association; and Tom Pawlina, Principal at ATP Environmental. Come learn about best practices, local projects, and how you can be part of the stormwater solution.

March 17, 6:30-8:30 p.m. in the Maccario Room of the Malden Public Library, 36 Salem Street, Malden, MA

Please RSVP for this event!


Representative Denise Provost to Address MyRWA Committees

Please join the Mystic River Watershed Association monthly Committee Meeting to hear from Somerville Representative Denise Provost. Denise has long been a supporter of the Mystic River, and we are excited to hear her thoughts on progress being made to protect and restore this resource. She will also explain the timing of the budget process, and how MyRWA can advocate for inclusion and support for amendments to the budget or direct inclusion in the budget.

Tuesday, March 4th, 7-8pm

Tufts University, Lincoln Filene Center, Rabb Room


Call for artists - Mystic Art Show Announced!

The Medford Arts Center (MACI) is seeking artists of various media for the first annual juried “Into the Mystic” Environmental Art and Film Festival for June 20-22, 2014 which will be held at Hyatt Place, 116 Riverside Ave, Medford. The opening reception is Friday, June 20th, from 6-9 pm.  The festival is a collaboration of MACI, Green Medford, Mystic River Watershed Association, The City of Medford’s Office of Energy and Environment, and the Friends of the Mystic River.

The theme of the art is “the Mystic River” in any season. It can be representational, literal, or use found materials from the river area.  Each artist may submit two pieces maximum.

For a registration form, contact Mike Oliver at

Entry fee: $15.00

Deadline for applicants: April 15, 2014

For more information, call 617-605-7325.


Moving Forward with Green Infrastructure Plans in Arlington & Belmont

Representatives from the Towns of Arlington and Belmont, Mystic River Watershed Association and Bioengineering Group met to evaluate and prioritize sites for implementing green infrastructure. This work is part of the 604(b) Water Quality Management Planning Grant and is focused on the Alewife Brook sub-watershed. Patrick Herron (MyRWA) presented on a GIS analysis of the two towns to evaluate both the geographic sources of stormwater pollutants and sites where infiltration of water is possible. The presentation on GIS examined surficial geology, hydrologic soil group, depth to water table and topographic slope. These are key characteristics when identifying ideal sites for infiltation-based green infrastructure, such as rain gardens and bioretention facilities. Each Town reviewed ten potential sites based on the following criteria: watershed benefits, ease of implementation, feasibility, ease of maintenance and community benefits. The consulting engineering team (Bioengineering) will visit the top 5 sites in each community to further evaluate feasibility.

Read more about the project here.


Can you help count fish?


The Mystic River Watershed Association will launch the third year of the Herring Monitoring Program on April 1st. Volunteer herring monitors are needed to count fish for a ten minute slot at the DCR Upper Mystic Lake Dam in Medford. Training will be held on Saturday, March 22nd from 10am until noon at the Medford Boat Club. All herring monitors MUST REGISTER for this training (if you can’t make it on the 22nd we’ll find another date to train you).

Find out more here.

  • No previous experience is needed.
  • Volunteers must be 18 years old or accompanied by an adult.
  • Volunteers should commit to counting for at least one 10-minute period per week, April 1 - June 15.
  • Must be able to swim.

Internship Opportunities with MyRWA 2014 (updated)

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) is happy to offer several internships for 2014. Please see each listing for more details about the position and how to apply.

Data Visualization Internship (unpaid)
Photo by David Mussina. Water chestnut removal, 2013.Assist in the exploration and display of environmental data.

Water Quality Monitoring Internship (unpaid)
Assist in a water quality monitoring program to gather data on Cyanobacteria populations and key water quality parameters from approximately ten water bodies.

Invasive Species Internships (stipend provided)
Organize and direct volunteer groups in removing water chestnut from the Mystic River, June 16 - Aug. 15.


(UPDATED 2/3/14)


A new wetland, a new future for Alewife Brook

Many people associate Cambridge with the Charles River, which provides a gleaming, picturesque border with neighbor Boston. But about one-third of the city – in West and North Cambridge – is in the Mystic River Watershed, meaning water there drains into the Mystic, primarily via Alewife Brook.

This is also where important and innovative work is under way to correct a problem that dates to the late 1800s: ridding the landscape of combined sewer overflow (CSO) outfalls that impair water quality in the Alewife Subwatershed.

City Engineer Owen O’Riordan and Engineering Project Coordinator Catherine Woodbury of the Cambridge Department of Public Works gave a presentation on the city’s sewer separation project at the Mystic River Watershed Association’s Joint Committee Meeting on January 7.

Ideally, stormwater and sanitary sewer systems should function independently. But many older cities have combined systems that collect rainwater runoff, domestic sewage and industrial wastewater in the same pipe. Most of the time, these systems transport all of their wastewater to a sewage treatment plant, where it is treated and then discharged to a water body.

During big storms, however, the volume in a combined sewer system can exceed capacity. In such instances, combined sewer systems are designed to overflow, which discharges excess wastewater directly to nearby water bodies. These discharges help prevent sewage backups into homes, businesses and streets, but they impair water quality, often to dangerous levels.

In Cambridge, the city and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority are collaborating on six projects to significantly reduce CSO discharges into Alewife Brook, including eliminating three of the eight original CSO outfall locations.

In addition, the amount of stormwater that enters the combined system is being reduced, which lessens the likelihood of combined outfalls. This is being accomplished in part by installing new storm drains in three neighborhoods, and by separating manholes that were common to the storm drain and sewer systems (effectively functioning as CSOs).

Several “green infrastructure” projects are part of the project, most notably the creation of a 3.5-acre wetland basin near the Alewife MBTA Station.  The wetland, completed last October, collects the stormwater flows removed from the combined sewer system, and provides a level of natural water quality treatment before the water drains into the Little River and Alewife Brook. It also will reduce flooding, a long-time problem in the area, and improve the health of adjacent natural wetlands.

The marshy basin features 115,000 new wetland plants, 3,800 upland plants, paths and boardwalks, benches and bike racks, interpretive signs, overlooks, and a seating area designed for school group visits. Other techniques the city is implementing to reduce stormwater runoff include planting more than 400 street trees, building rain gardens, and replacing impervious pavement with porous pavement.

When the project is completed next year, officials expect the annual amount of untreated sewage released to Alewife Brook will be 85% below 1996 levels – dropping from 50 million gallons to 7.3 million gallons – with average annual CSO discharges falling from 63 to seven.  

These initiatives will significantly improve the Alewife Subwatershed water quality, help restore the health of the Mystic River, and make the Alewife and Mystic River reservations safer and more inviting for recreation.

More information about the Cambridge sewer separation project is available on the city’s stormwater management web page.

The next Mystic River Watershed Association Joint Committee Meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, February 4, in the Rabb Room of the Lincoln Filene Center at Tufts University.  At that meeting, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority will give a presentation about its climate adaptation plans.

The public is welcome at all Joint Committee Meetings.       


A special thanks to Ken Krause for this article as part of the Mystic River Clean Water Campaign.


Grow Native MA: Wildness in Our Midst: The Middlesex Fells

The Middlesex Fells Reservation (located in the Mystic River Watershed!) has an impressive diversity of 30 different habitat types that spring from its unique geology, topography, hydrology, soil, and climate. These habitats support a rich diversity of flora and fauna that is unusual for a metropolitan setting. Come learn about the exceptional biodiversity of this urban forest, first set aside as a reservation in 1894. We will focus on only some of the more than 500 species of native plants that grow here. And we will look for lessons about how these local plant communities might also inform the design of our own gardens.

Dr. Bryan Hamlin is the lead author of a nine-year study of the Fells' flora published in 2012, titled Changes in the Vascular Flora of the Middlesex Fells Reservation, from 1895-2011. He is the Chairman of the Friends of Middlesex Fells Reservation, and the President of the New England Botanical Club.

Wednesday, February 5, 7:00 - 8:30 pm

Cambridge Public Library, 449 Broadway, Cambridge, MA

Free and open to all.



On Tuesday, February 4th, MyRWA will be joined by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) to hear about their climate adaptation plans. How will the MWRA be impacted and what will change in the Mystic River Watershed? Please join MyRWA for this presentation as part of the monthly Committee Meeting: Tues. Feb. 4th, 7-8pm, Tufts University, Lincoln Filene Center, Rabb Room.



The Friends of the Malden River, a newly formed advocacy group, is scheduled to meet on Tuesday, February 11th at the Parlin Memorial Library at 410 Broadway in Everett at 6:30pm. This meeting is open to the public and the group is seeking volunteers to help formulate action items for the coming months. The group has heard from local city planners, waterfront developers, and water quality experts.

For more information see the Friends of the Malden River website.