Arlington-Ma. In collaboration with the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Mystic River Watershed Association issued the 2018 Water Quality Report Card for the Mystic River watershed on June 26 at the Mystic Lakes Dam in Arlington, MA.
The Mystic River and the Mystic Lakes continue to have clean water--earning grades of A- and A in this latest report card. This is the fifth year in a row that the river and lakes have earned A-range grades. This means that the Upper Mystic Lake meets public health standards for swimming more than 95% of the time in dry weather, and the Mystic River meets canoeing and rowing standards more than 98% of the time in dry weather.
“I encourage community members to go boat on the Mystic and Malden Rivers, and to swim at Shannon Beach at Upper Mystic Lake,” said Patrick Herron, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA). “It is a great resource--and we are so happy that it is clean and becoming even more accessible for community members with more public boat launches, canoe/kayak rental facilities, and even more connected paths and parks."
There is also good news downstream with water quality improvements noted at the Island End River between Everett and Chelsea. The grade at this site has improved from an F to a C+ in three short years.
However, the report did not contain all good news. Many of the smaller rivers and tributaries that lead to the Lakes and to the main stem of the Mystic continue to receive poor grades. For example, the Aberjona River receives a grade D+, while Alewife Brook gets a D. And conditions at many locations are worse during and after rain events.
“The report card is tracking bacterial pollution from untreated wastewater, which gets to rivers and lakes through old and leaky infrastructure. These pathways introduce more contamination when it rains, so bacteria levels are usually higher in wet weather,” said Andy Hrycyna, Watershed Scientist. “The report card gathers the data needed to fix old problems and plan for the future.”
The report card, which is issued for all major water bodies in the watershed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), uses data provided by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Mystic River Watershed Association’s Baseline Water Quality Monitoring Program. To gather baseline data, MyRWA depends on a cohort of dedicated citizen scientists who take water samples at 15 locations throughout the watershed each month.