License Plates Fund Mystic River Watershed Association

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) received a $25,000 grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust (the Trust) to push forward our work addressing phosphorus pollution in our waterways.

 According to the Trust Program Director, Kim Tilas, the Trust will provide $542,354 in grants to 16 organizations this year, thanks to motorists who choose to purchase one of the Trust's specialty license plates (MET Drive for a Better Environment Grants Program). Sales of the three license plates are the only source of funding for these grants—including the one awarded to the Mystic River Watershed Association.

 Pollution from stormwater runoff—the water flowing off impervious surfaces such as roads and parking lots after a rainfall—is the major source of water quality degradation in our watershed. In particular, phosphorus—a limiting nutrient in freshwater systems, introduced by stormwater in urban areas—causes excessive growth of invasive plants and algae, low dissolved oxygen levels that threaten fish habitat, and blooms of toxic cyanobacteria that are a threat to public health. Working in close collaboration with state and federal partners, the Mystic River Watershed Association has invested three full years of sampling to measure phosphorus and its impacts on water bodies. This data is being used to develop a nutrient budget for the Mystic River.

 With funding from the Trust, the Mystic River Watershed Association will educate municipal leadership and residents about this nutrient budget and opportunities in each municipality to reduce nutrients. The multifaceted education project on nutrient pollution includes research on replicable best practices (e.g. bioretention), creation of educational materials, meetings with municipal leadership, public presentations and communications through print and social media.

 “Thank you to the Trust, and every person who supports the Trust through the purchase of a license plate,” said Patrick Herron, Executive Director. "You are supporting critical science that will result in impactful strategies to reduce phosphorous in our water—thereby keeping our water healthy for people and fish!”

 Supporting the environmental programs funded by the Trust in your community is easy: choose one of three environmental plates, the Right Whale & Roseate Terns, The Leaping Brook Trout, or the Blackstone Valley Mill when you purchase or lease a new car or renew your registration with the Registry of Motor Vehicles.

 Visit your local Registry of Motor Vehicles to order a plate online at here.  You can also visit us at or to learn more about the Trust, the programs it supports, and the specialty license plate offerings.