Malden River Festival & Dragon Boat Regatta!

Please plan on attending the 2014 Malden River Festival!

The event includes an art show featuring local artists, live music and dance performances, community information tables, and - NEW THIS YEAR - a Dragon Boat Regatta on the Malden River! This event is fun for all ages. Free children's bicycle helmets give-away. Rain or shine.

FREE parking, admission and shuttle bus from Wellington Station.

Saturday, September 20, 2014
11:00AM - 3:00PM
Park at River's Edge, 200 River's Edge Drive, Medford, MA


Sept. 2nd: Regional Stormwater Approach - Lessons learned

On Tuesday, Sept. 2nd please plan to attend the monthly Mystic River Watershed Association’s Committee Meeting to hear from Aubrey Strause, co-facilitator of the Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition from 7:00PM to 8:00PM. The Coalition is a group of 30 Massachusetts communities implementing a regional approach to stormwater management. The group has developed a Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan Template, training and outreach materials for town personnel and volunteers, a sump pump discharge policy, a stormwater Best Management Practices (BMPs) toolbox and much more. Aubrey’s presentation will be followed by the Policy and Clean Water Campaign meetings. This meeting is open to the public and we encourage all to attend.

Join us on September 2, 7-9PM, at Tufts University, Lincoln Filene Center, Rabb Room.



Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA Region 1At a press event on August 18, 2014, staff from the Mystic River Watershed Association received a $60,000 check from Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator of EPA Region 1 as part of the EPA Urban Waters Small Grant Program. The Association was thrilled to be joined by Curt Spalding who shared his enthusiasm for cleaning up the Mystic River Watershed. The event was held at the Park at River's Edge along the Malden River in Medford. Also in attendance were Mayor Michael McGlynn of Medford; John Preotle of Preotle, Lane & Associates; Representative Paul Donato; Jay Ash, City Manager of the City of Chelsea; and representatives from Tri-City Community Action Program, Alternatives for Community & Environment, Inc. and Chelsea Creek Action Group. After the press event Curt Spalding and others enjoyed a boat tour of the Malden and Mystic Rivers.

Beth MacBlane (MyRWA), Patrick Herron (MyRWA), Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn, Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA Region 1, Philip Bronder-Giroux of Tri-City Community Action Program, Inc. (Tri-CAP) As part of this work, the Mystic River Watershed Association will promote green infrastructure in three environmental justice communities bordering the Malden River through education, outreach, planning charettes, GIS analysis, modeling of pollutant source and loads, development of a low impact development (LID) technical document, and analysis of zoning/ordinances. The program will work directly with municipal staff to train them on the principles of green infrastructure, provide a technical green infrastructure guidance document specific to the urban environment, and expose them to the variety of solutions available.


Chris Marchi of NOAH (Neighborhood of Affordable Housing), Jay Ash - City Manager of Chelsea, MA, John Walkey and Staci Rubin of Alternatives for Community and Environment, Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator, EPA Region 1, Roseann Bongiovanni and Maria Belen Power of Chelsea Creek Action Group.A second grant in the Mystic River Watershed was awarded to staff from Alternatives for Community & Environment, Inc., (ACE). ACE will partner with the Chelsea Creek Action Group (CCAG) to assist environmental justice communities in implementing their Chelsea Creek Community Improvement Plan. The project will engage residents in reviewing and updating the community vision for the Chelsea Creek; assist them in understanding existing regulatory mechanisms for protecting water quality; and facilitate them in taking a proactive role in the promotion of the Chelsea Creek as an environmental, recreational, economic, and educational resource.


Green Infrastructure in the Mystic River Watershed

The Mystic River Watershed Association’s (MyRWA’s) Deputy Director Patrick Herron, PhD, was the speaker at the August 5th monthly Committee Meeting. Patrick spoke about Green Infrastructure and the role it plays in the work being done by MyRWA. He began with a definition for this stormwater management approach, discussed the related concepts of Low Impact Development (LID) and Best Management Practices (BMPs), gave some practical examples, and addressed the question of “why focus on Green Infrastructure” for the Mystic River Watershed.

Common examples of Green Infrastructure include bio-swales, permeable pavement, green roofs, rainwater harvesting, rain gardens, and constructed wetlands. Patrick explained that a core guiding principle of these efforts is to achieve pre-development hydrology. In many cases, urbanized development of land increases the amount of impermeable surfaces, such as roads, roofs and parking lots. These types of surfaces block rain from infiltrating into the water table. When water can’t soak into the ground it leads to increased stormwater runoff which carries more pollutants, such as litter and nutrients into the water body. Increased runoff can also lead to flooding that damages wetland habitats, bridges, and roadways. Nutrients are not inherently dangerous, but high levels encourage excessive weed and algal growth that can lead to toxic conditions, as we have recently seen in Toledo, Ohio. Green Infrastructure can help to mitigate these issues by slowing down stormwater and allowing more water to be infiltrated into the ground, instead of flowing directly into water bodies. When water is absorbed by the ground, nutrients are captured by the soil and the water is released more slowly into rivers thereby reducing peak flows.

Patrick went on to explain how convincing all affected stakeholders to support Green Infrastructure comes with many challenges. Coordinating these newer strategies with traditional planning and design approaches can be met with resistance. Patrick highlighted the need to begin the Green Infrastructure projects as early as possible when included with larger projects. On the other hand, Green Infrastructures face the challenge of being seen as an added and unnecessary expenditure when considered alone. Patrick expressed optimism that new legislation currently being worked on may eventually provide an economic driver for this second issue. Until this becomes finalized, projects teams and supporters can look to “triple bottom line” (3BL) accounting, to identify the hidden value of Green Infrastructure. The 3BL approach realizes increased value by considering a wider set of parameters including people, and the planet, beyond traditional profits. A healthy and more attractive environment produces many of these values.    

MyRWA has had several grant-based projects to evaluate and prioritize potential locations for Green Infrastructure within the watershed. Patrick explained how this process has developed GIS maps that help municipalities and citizens select sites wisely, maximizing their return on investment. Some locations require major expensive construction works, and don’t have soil conditions that easily absorb stormwater. Meanwhile some sites don’t require as much investment in construction costs and provide better natural conditions. A potential site becomes very attractive when the second scenario is the case, and the public feels it is worthwhile to improve the aesthetics of a location. A significant takeaway has been the value of participatory stakeholder engagement. In some projects citizens became involved with the planning process through workshops. During these workshops, MyRWA and the rest of the project teams were able to identify more sites, and develop a better understanding of the total value for each location.

With each project MyRWA is learning more about the process of installing Green Infrastructure as well as educating both municipal staffers and the public about the importance of mitigating the effects of stormwater runoff.

More information about MyRWA’s Green Infrastructure projects, view the list of stormwater projects here.

The next Mystic River Watershed Association Joint Committee Meeting will take place at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, September 2, in the Rabb Room of the Lincoln Filene Center at Tufts University.  We will be joined by guest speaker Aubrey Strause, co-facilitator of the Central Massachusetts Regional Stormwater Coalition – a group of 30 Massachusetts communities implementing a regional approach stormwater management.

The public is welcome at all Mystic River Watershed Association Committee Meetings.

For more information on the Mystic River Watershed Association, visit

Thank you Tommy Chase for submitting this article!


Call for Submissions: Volunteer of The Year

Each year the Mystic River Watershed Association has recognized the exceptional community service efforts of its members through the Mystic River Watershed Association Volunteer of the Year award. The Association relies upon the gracious efforts of our volunteers throughout the year and for a variety of projects. Each year, we select one volunteer to honor at our annual meeting, held in October.

Do you know a MyRWA volunteer who has gone above and beyond? Please submit your nomination of someone who has performed significant work towards protecting and restoring the Mystic River Watershed.

Submit your proposals to or by calling Beth at 781-316-3438.

Please include:

  • Your full name, email address and phone number.
  •  Full name, email address and phone number (if you have it) of your suggestion for Volunteer of the Year. Include a short explanation of this person’s contribution to a healthier Mystic River Watershed.
  • Volunteer of the Year nominations are due by Monday, Sept. 2, 2014.

Fighting Back Against the Water Chestnut Invasion

The Somerville Neighborhood News produced this film about water chestnuts in the Mystic River. This invasive plant is taking over the river and impacting water quality as well as recreation. For five years a group of partnering organizations, state agencies and cities and towns have banded together to fund the eradication efforts. Watch the film here and learn more about the Water Chestnut Removal Program here.


Two Promotions at the Mystic River Watershed Association

The Mystic River Watershed Association is pleased to announce two recent staff promotions.

Outreach Coordinator Beth MacBlane has been named Outreach and Communications Director. Beth’s work will continue to focus on community engagement and volunteer recruitment and management. In her new role Beth will also coordinate and implement strategic communications to raise the visibility and impact of the association and its mission. Beth, with the Mystic River Watershed Association since 2009, significantly expanded the Association’s presence on social media, added new outreach events and has grown the annual Herring Run and Paddle participation by more than 250%. As Outreach and Communications Director, Beth will work to further increase the Association’s online, media, and public presence, and will support the Executive Director and staff with advocacy, public policy, and research projects.  

Patrick Herron, PhD, previously Water Quality Monitoring Director, has been named Deputy Director for the Mystic River Watershed Association. Since 2009, Patrick has served as project manager and chief scientist for keystone water quality monitoring programs, the water chestnut removal project, and managed more than $1,047,000 in grant funding. Patrick serves as key liaison for the association with municipal officials and staff at 22 Mystic River communities and with state and federal agencies. As Deputy Director, Patrick will continue to supervise water quality monitoring and improvement initiatives. He will also work closely with the Executive Director to coordinate direction and management of all environmental restoration and advocacy programs and to chart the Association’s future growth and strategic response to increasing demand for its services.



MyRWA is happy to announce that we are the recipient of a $60,000 grant through the US EPA Urban Waters Small Grants program. The goal of the Urban Waters Small Grants program is to fund research, investigations, experiments, training, surveys, studies, and demonstrations that will advance the restoration of urban waters by improving water quality through activities that also support community revitalization and other local priorities.

Through this grant, the Mystic River Watershed Association will promote green infrastructure in three environmental justice communities bordering the Malden River through education, outreach, planning charettes, GIS analysis, modeling of pollutant source and loads, development of a low impact development (LID) technical document, and analysis of zoning/ordinances. The program will work directly with municipal staff from Malden, Medford and Everett to train them on the principles of green infrastructure, provide a technical green infrastructure guidance document specific to the urban environment, and expose them to the variety of solutions available.

Read the official announcement here.


Learn about Green Infrastructure in the Mystic River Watershed August 5th

MyRWA's rain garden at Hurd Field in Arlington, MA.On Tuesday, August 5 join the Mystic River Watershed Association to learn more about Green Infrastructure. Green Infrastructure or Green Best Management Practices (BMPs) represent an approach to wet-weather management that utilizes small-scale facilities to slow down, cleanse, infiltrate, and reuse rainwater where it falls.  Green Infrastructure includes vegetated swales, bio-retention structures, permeable pavement, and street trees. MyRWA’s Patrick Herron will discuss current MyRWA projects that promote Green Infrastructure from 7-8pm as part of MyRWA's monthly Committee Meeting. This meeting is open to the public and we encourage all to attend.

Join us on August 5th, 7-9PM, at Tufts University, Lincoln Filene Center, Rabb Room.


UPDATE: Invasive Species Control in the Mystic River

A small crowd gathered on a dock overlooking the Mystic River at the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse in Somerville, MA for the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) press conference on July 15, 2014. The DCR announced their dedication to invasive species control in the Mystic River, noting that 850 tons of water chestnut has been removed thus far in 2014. An expected 85% of the invasive water chestnut will be removed this year, primarily via mechanical harvesting. The DCR thanked their partners in this effort – the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, the Cities of Medford and Somerville, Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA), Friends of the Mystic River, Groundwork Somerville, Gentle Giant Rowing Club and area boat and yacht clubs. The DCR will invest $125,000 in invasive species removal in the Mystic River Watershed in FY2014 and project partners have dedicated an additional $25,000 to the cause.

Secretary of Environmental Affairs Maeve Vallely Bartlett stated that we are gathered “to celebrate the over-arching goal of restoring the use of the lower Mystic River as a viable habitat for fisheries and wildlife through a program to remove the water chestnuts. With the investment in an annual program we can knock back the spread of water chestnut each year with the mechanical harvesting until it can in fact be managed with volunteer hand-pulling alone.”

“The Mystic River Watershed is an urban gem,” stated EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association. “The invasive species program helps to preserve the value of this beautiful living system."


MyRWA’s EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, Medford Mayor Michael McGlynn, State Representative Denise Provost, Secretary of Environmental Affairs Maeve Vallely Bartlett, Department of Conservation and Recreation Deputy Commissioner Jack Murray, Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, Dan Hurley from State Representative Donato’s Office and Chief of Staff for State Senator Jehlen, Tim Snyder are pictured above.


Metro North Land Use Priority Plan Meeting July 31

Join the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development, Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, MassDOT, and the Metropolitan Area Planning Council for a presentation and discussion about:

  • Local, Regional and State Priority Preservation Areas and Development Areas
  • Regionally Significant Infrastructure Improvements
  • Innovative ways to preserve/create open space and recreation
  • Challenges to Growth in these Communities

Date:         Thursday, July 31, 2014

Time:        Open House begins at 5:00PM to view maps and talk to project staff

                 Meeting begins at 5:45 PM

Location:  Malden Government Center, 200 Pleasant Street, 3rd Floor Council Chambers, Malden, MA


Citizen Scientist Training Workshop Announced

Attendees at a Citizen Scientist Training Workshop.Please join MyRWA on Saturday, September 6 for a Citizen Scientist Training Workshop. This Workshop allows interested volunteers to learn about water quality monitoring methods and concepts. By completing this workshop, you’ll be prepared to join MyRWA’s Baseline Monitoring Program. The Baseline Monitoring Program requires a monthly commitment between 6am and 8am. No experience is necessary - all are welcome!

When: Saturday, September 6, 2014, 9:00am-11:00am
Where: MyRWA office building - 20 Academy Street, Arlington, MA

Space is limited! Please register today by emailing

Learn more about MyRWA's water quality monitoring programs here.



Action Alert: Mystic River Water Quality Commission

As a supporter of the Mystic River Watershed Association, I am writing to ask you once again to reach out to the House Ways and Means Chairman to urge him to release H785 Establishing a Mystic River Water Quality Commission for a vote by the full House. There are only three weeks remaining in this legislative session and an outpouring of support is essential to move this important legislation forward!

Below I have included contact information and sample text for your correspondence with Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. Thank you in advance for your prompt action!


Representative Brian S. Dempsey
House Ways and Means Chair
State House, Room 243
Boston, MA 02133

Dear Honorable Brian Dempsey,

I am writing to urge you to release H785 Establishing a Mystic River Water Quality Commission for a vote of the full House. This important commission, proposed by Representative Denise Provost and supported by many members of the House, will investigate and study the Mystic River ecosystem. The Mystic River Water Quality Commission will make recommendations to improve water quality conditions to a level that supports fishing, boating, swimming and wildlife. As a resident of the Mystic River Watershed, I feel I deserve clean water!

For too long, impaired water quality and environmental conditions have been overlooked in the Mystic River and its tributaries. This commission will provide critically important support to efforts to restore environmental conditions in the Mystic River in three important ways:
  1. The Commission will elevate the issue of impaired water quality in the Mystic River and will make clear the impact of poor water quality on local ecology and recreational use
  2. The Commission's report will provide a clear understanding of the best and most effective ways to deploy limited local and regional resources and funding
  3. Environmental activists, advocates and concerned State legislators will use the commission's report and findings to strengthen their environmental advocacy.

Much work is already underway and the story of the Mystic River as an important living system and recreational destination has been gaining much momentum. The Mystic River Water Quality Commission will bring important and appropriate attention to this work from the State Legislature and will amplify the efforts of local advocates and State and Federal partners. It will generate further political momentum for legislative action and additional Federal funding that is very much needed to ensure that the Mystic River is included in the successful water quality improvements experienced in Boston Harbor and the Charles River.

Thank you in advance for releasing H785 Establishing a Mystic River Water Quality Commission for a vote of the full House.

Sincerely yours,

(your name)

(your address)



Thank you for taking this important action and for supporting the Mystic River Watershed Association.


Special Opportunity: Marine Invader Monitoring and Information Collaborative

The Marine Invader Monitoring and Information Collaborative (MIMIC) is a network of trained volunteers, scientists, and state and federal workers who monitor marine invasive species along the Gulf of Maine. The collaborative provides an opportunity for the general public to actively participate in an invasive species early detection network, identify new invaders before they spread out of control, and help improve our understanding of the behavior of established invaders. More than 100 volunteers are monitoring 38 sites in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine.

The four primary components of the MIMIC program are:

  1. Coordination
  2. Training
  3. Monitoring
  4. Information Transfer

The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management coordinates the program and data are housed at MIT Sea Grant.

The Invasive Species monitoring in the Mystic River Watershed is scheduled for:

  1. Monday July 14, 7:00pm
  2. Tuesday Aug 12, 6:00pm
  3. Wednesday Sept 10, 6:30pm

The site is at the Boston Harbor Shipyard & Marina, 256 Marginal St, East Boston

If you would like to participate in this program please call Beth at 781-316-3438.

This is a collaboration of the Mystic River Watershed Association and The Surfrider Foundation.


2014 Herring Run Estimated at 239,059

The 2014 herring migration was tracked by nearly 100 trained volunteer herring monitors at the DCR Upper Mystic Lake dam in Medford, MA. Their efforts resulted in 31,296 herring counted. With this data the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries estimates the run size at 239,059 +/- 37,288 herring. These results suggest the number of river herring entering into Upper Mystic Lake increased in 2014.

Read more about the Herring Monitoring Program here.


Budget Includes DCR Funding for Mystic Master Plan

On June 30th the State House and Senate Conference Committee released a consensus budget that includes funding for the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) not less than $250,000 to be expended to finalize the designs and to obtain the permits necessary for implementation of the Mystic River Master plan, including aquatic invasive species control on the Mystic River. Senator Pat Jehlen worked tirelessly on this issue and provided important leadership in the Senate as did Representatives Denise Provost and Paul Donato in the House. MyRWA very much appreciates the dedication of local residents and the hard work of members of House and Senate who fought to see this important funding was included in FY2015 budget!

Read more here.


Medford's First Environmental Art & Film Festival was a Huge Hit!

More than a hundred people saw the premiere of "The Mystic Herring Run: The Return of 2012 and Beyond" the weekend of June 21. What an amazing film it was: incredible underwater photography of schooling alewives and blueback herrings making their way to the Upper Mystic Lake to spawn, great command of science, and real passion. Congratulations to filmmaker Shervin Ayra, who discussed the long path to this premiere and answered questions from the rapt audience.

And many more people came to the opening reception. Artists Jane Estella, Keith Maddy, Doc Madison, Peg Drummey, Chris Naitza, George McLean, Darlene Stout, Sydney Smith, Bernadette Murah, Susan Altman, Katie Cornog, Henry Olds, Sherry Leffert, and David Mussina won awards for their artwork. Three excellent short films on rivers were screened, and the Hyatt provided a lovely spread.

Enjoy all the photos from the festival on the Mystic Art Gallery's Facebook page


Reprinted courtesy of the Medford Arts Center.


A fish ladder in Winchester?

Come hear about the prospect of installing a fish ladder to the Center Falls Dam in Winchester center. We’ll also share preliminary 2014 herring run data and present the results of the 2013 herring habitat assessment. Join us at the next Committee Meeting on Tuesday July 1st, 7-8PM, Tufts University, Lincoln Filene Center, Rabb Room, Medford.


MyRWA Receives "Education and Public Service Award"

MyRWA was awarded the 2014 Education and Public Service Award by the Board of Directors of the Universities Council on Water Resources on June 19. The award “acknowledges with sincere appreciation the vision and leadership in the advancement of water resources education and public service.” MyRWA’s Patrick Herron, Water Quality Monitoring Director, received the award on behalf of the Association. Thank you for your recognition UCOWR!


Asphalt spilled into the Mystic River (updated 6/20/14)

An estimated 2,100 to 10,794 gallons of asphalt were spilled into the Mystic River on June 19, 2014 – this estimate has been revised from 11,000 gallons. The spill occurred from a Sprague Energy vessel at the ExxonMobil facility in Everett, MA. Mystic River Watershed Association staff met with officials from ExxonMobil and Sprague Energy to discuss the incident and learn more about cleanup plans on June 20.

Officials stated the asphalt product solidified upon contact with the water, allowing for efficient removal within a contained area. No one was hurt during the incident and Sprague Energy is reporting that the clean-up is almost complete within 24 hours of the event. MassDEP, NOAA, US Coast Guard as well as Clean Harbors and TMC Environmental were reported to be on site to assess conditions and aid in the cleanup. It was reported that no sheen was observed in the vicinity of the spill or the congealed asphalt mat that covered the river as a result of the spill. A diver investigated the area to determine whether any of the product was present in the water column, on the river bottom or in the sediment.