Mystic River Watershed Association, State and Local Communities Partner to Battle Invasive Plant in Mystic River

During the past four years, the Mystic River Watershed Association and local community groups have been battling water chestnut, an invasive plant that impedes recreation and hurts habitat quality, in the Mystic River. Over the years this program has grown in size and now includes support from the Cities of Medford and Somerville, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Tufts University, area boat and yacht clubs, and local businesses. Recently, the Mystic River Watershed Association obtained $125,000 of funding from the MA Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) to support removal efforts over the next two years.  $50,000 of funding was provided through the DCR Partnership Program and $75,000 was provided through the larger DCR budget process. This funding pays for mechanical harvesting of water chestnuts from the Mystic River in Medford and Somerville. The mechanical work in 2013 cleared significant areas of the Blessing of the Bay area and we expect 2014 will be even more successful.

 “Our work has steadily reduced the water chestnut population at the upper sections of the river and now we are working to stop the spread at the bottom of the river near Blessing of the Bay in Somerville,” stated Patrick Herron, Mystic Monitoring Network Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association. “This work benefits all of the rowers and boaters who use the river, as well as the wildlife. Managing this plant requires sustained attention over a period of years.  We are grateful for the support our legislators have provided to this project – including Senator Jehlen and Representative Provost – and thrilled to have DCR’s support for continuing this important project.”

Volunteers from the community, local businesses, and community organizations have also participated by hand-pulling water chestnuts from canoes.  As of August 12th, 2013, over 3,500 baskets of water chestnuts have been removed by 380 volunteers with the Mystic River Watershed Association. To find out more about the Mystic River Water Chestnut Removal Program go to:

The Mystic River Watershed Association would like to thank everyone who has supported this program in 2013, including:

  • Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation

  • National Fish and Wildlife Foundation

  • Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

  • City of Medford

  • City of Somerville

  • Tufts University

  • Riverside Yacht Club

  • Mystic Wellington Yacht Club

  • Medford Boat Club

  • ERM Foundation

  • FedEx Corporation

  • Building Impact

  • IBM

  • Millennium Pharmaceutical

  • Citizens Bank

  • Google

  • Groundwork Somerville

  • Friends of the Mystic River

  • Eagle Eye Institute

  • Mystic Mural Project

  • Gentle Giant Rowing Club

  • Team GreenSense, City of Cambridge

  • Whole Foods Market Medford

  • Flatbread Pizza

  • Regina’s Pizzeria

About Water Chestnuts

Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is native to Asia, Europe and Africa. These floating-leaved plants form dense, continuous mats over the water surface of lakes, ponds and slow-moving waters. The mats impede boating, fishing, and swimming, and crowd out native plants. Decomposition of large quantities of water chestnuts may result in lower dissolved oxygen levels, which can lead to fish kills. The plant’s growth is propelled by high levels of nutrients, such as phosphorus, in the Mystic River. And here is why the time is now to act: one acre of water chestnut can produce enough seeds to cover 100 acres the following year. Each seed can give rise to 10-15 rosettes and each rosette can produce as many as 20 seeds. And if that wasn’t enough, seeds can remain viable for up to 12 years!

Read more about the Water Chestnut Removal Project here.