Aug 18, 2020

Report Card for Mystic River Watershed 2019 Released

The water quality report card for Massachusetts' Mystic River shows bacterial levels meet water quality standards nearly all the time

mystic river

The Mystic River Watershed Association, in collaboration with the U.S. EPA, announced its annual Water Quality Report Card on the Mystic River watershed for 2019. 

The water quality monitoring data shows that water quality for bacterial levels in the main stem of the Mystic River meets water quality standards for bacteria nearly all the time, according to the EPA.

"We are incredibly fortunate to have such a clean urban river as part of the Boston Harbor watershed," said EPA Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "Improving water quality in the watershed is a focus for EPA. We continue to see natural resources such as the Mystic River serve as a driver for further environmental improvements and smart development in dense, urban areas."

The report card grades 14 segments of the Mystic River Watershed. The card showed improvement in some segments of the watershed in 2019, which indicates that the work being done to reduce bacterial contamination is working.

According to the EPA, the data show that the main stem of the river is safe for swimming and boating. Bacterial levels in several of the tributary streams feeding the Mystic are high, however, so these areas often do not meet water quality standards.

In 2019, some of the streams deemed “problem streams” showed signs of improvement, particularly the Island End River. This river received infrastructure work to reduce sewage inputs into the storm water system.  

Besides bacterial contamination, the Mystic River watershed also suffers from excess nutrients, particularly phosphorus. Starting in 2016, EPA, MassDEP, and MyRWA began working to create plans to achieve water quality goals in the watershed.

2019 was the first time the Island End River has received a "B" grade. The Island End River improved from an "F" in 2016 and earlier years, according to the EPA.  

"The Island End River is a great example of real, quantifiable improvement in water quality that can be achieved when communities work together and solve environmental problems" said EPA New England Regional Administrator Deziel.

More work is scheduled for these tributaries, according to the EPA. Repairs to complete sanitary and storm sewer systems is in the works.

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