­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Water Quality

Is it safe to swim? Is it safe to boat on the Mystic? Assessing water quality conditions is the foundation of our work – we strive to answer these questions and more. We accomplish this work through several comprehensive and long-term water quality monitoring programs.



MyRWA monitors trends in water quality at 15 sites throughout the watershed with the help of a dedicated corps of volunteers.


Cyanobacteria, a potentially harmful bacteria, is monitored throughout the watershed primarily at recreational areas.

Stormwater Pollution

Rain water collects and transports pollution to our waterways, including litter, road salt, fertilizer and oil.

Recreational Alert System

The watershed wide flagging system alerts recreational users to safe or unsafe water quality conditions.

Mystic Greenways

The Mystic Greenways Initiative will connect 20 miles of paths, improve hundreds of acres of parkland and engage thousands of community members from the Mystic Lakes to Boston Harbor. 


Invasive plant management

With the help of more than 900 volunteers each year, MyRWA works to remove the invasive weed, water chestnut, from the Mystic River and Arlington Reservoir, as well as Oriential bittersweet from waterfront parks.  We partner with local businesses and community groups to offer fun and rewarding community stewardship events.

River Herring

The Herring Monitoring Program records the number of herring passing through the fish ladder at the DCR Mystic Lakes Dam in Medford.  In 2017, nearly 630,000 herring were estimated to have passed through the Mystic Lakes Dam to spawn!


Working through the Policy and Outreach Committees, as well as in collaboration with partnering organizations, MyRWA addresses the issues and needs of the communities and natural resources of the 22 community watershed. The Policy and Outreach Committees meet monthly to review permits, develop comment letters, plan community outreach events, develop educational handouts, and initiate letter writing campaigns about environmental issues.  


Wynn Restoration

MyRWA tracks the cleanup of the Wynn Resorts hazardous waste site along the Mystic River. The estimated $30 million restoration will bring the site to productive use and improve access to the river.

 © David Mussina

© David Mussina

Other Projects

 Community members constructing a rain garden in Malden.

Community members constructing a rain garden in Malden.


MyRWA received funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Urban Waters Program to support the development of multimedia education program to increase awareness of stormwater pollution for a regional coalition of municipalities. (2016-2017)
 River herring. Photo by Patrick Herron.

River herring. Photo by Patrick Herron.


Funded by a US EPA Environmental Education grant we designed and installed a video system and web interface that enables students to monitor a major fish migration and participate in fish counts. Students can view the migration via two underwater video cameras and by taking field trips to the fish ladders. (2016-2018)
 Volunteers remove Oriental bittersweet, an invasive vine.

Volunteers remove Oriental bittersweet, an invasive vine.


Through the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation’s Five Star and Urban Waters Restoration Program, MyRWA and partners will work to restore habitat in our urban park spaces through invasive plant management planning and events. The project area includes 4.7 miles of riverfront parkland and focuses on the 66-acre Torbert Macdonald Park in Medford. (2016-2018)
 MyRWA performed community outreach about stormwater runoff at local festivals.

MyRWA performed community outreach about stormwater runoff at local festivals.


MyRWA promoted green infrastructure in three environmental justice communities bordering the Malden River - Everett, Malden and Medford - through public and municipal education, technical assistance, and through an existing conditions analysis of Malden River water quality. This project was funded by the US EPA Urban Waters Small Grants Program. (2014-2016)
 Fish were caught in the lower Mystic River and Chelsea Creek.

Fish were caught in the lower Mystic River and Chelsea Creek.


MyRWA and partnering organizations are working to determine just that answer in the saltwater section of the Mystic River. The purpose of the Lower Mystic Fish Advisory Project is to provide clear, useful, and necessary public information that will enable the communities in the Lower Mystic River (below the Amelia Earhart dam) to safely catch and consume fish from the Mystic River.