OUR WORK

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Mass Rivers is the only organization that brings together people and organizations statewide to speak on behalf of Massachusetts rivers with a strong, unified voice. We work closely with member organizations and other partners to fulfill a vision for the Commonwealth that includes keeping rivers flowing during dry times and minimizing flooding in wet times, restoring polluted rivers and making sure they remain clean, ensuring that fisheries and aquatic habitat are protected, and supporting investment in climate resilient water infrastructure.
We provide the "river perspective" on a myriad of state management committees, commissions, and advisory boards that oversee drought management, water infrastructure planning, water resources and stormwater management, mosquito control, estuary protection, and more. 

Mass Rivers works to strengthen statewide river policies in four key areas:

Streamflow, water quality, wildlife habitat, and investment in our environment. 

Protecting Streamflow

Westfield River, photo by Bill Parker

Mass Rivers is advocating for stronger streamflow protection through the state's Water Management Act Program (regulating large water withdrawals) and Drought Management Task Force.

 

We're working with watershed groups statewide to advocate for more effective water conservation in renewed WMA permits (see our Technical Support page for more information), and to strengthen the proposed condition on WMA registrations that would restrict nonessential outdoor water use by registrants during drought. 

We're also leading a legislative effort that will help our local water bodies stay resilient in the face of climate change, maintaining adequate water supplies through effective drought management. 

Restoring Water Quality

More than half the state's rivers and streams fail to meet water quality standards due to stormwater pollution. Mass Rivers led the effort for the 2021 passage of the first stand-alone piece of water legislation in Massachusetts in more than 20 years - a public notification requirement for sewage discharges into rivers. 

We're currently working with river stewards nationwide to get water quality, as well as water quantity and clean drinking water, on the federal agenda. 

Mass Rivers recently led a successful lawsuit with nine co-plantiffs to force the EPA's implementation of that state's stormwater permit. 

Sudbury River, photo by Julia Blatt

Improving Wildlife Habitat

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Farrar Pond, photo by Maury Eldridge

Mass Rivers is helping municipalities and conservation organizations statewide maintain healthy ecosystems by advocating for an invasive species grant program and environmentally-friendly mosquito control. 

 

Undersized culverts and poorly designed road crossings prevent wildlife passage and can fail catastrophically in a major storm. In recent years, Mass Rivers has organized two series of workshops throughout the state that attracted more than 600 municipal staff and consultants on improving road/stream crossings and municipal stormwater utilities. 

Investment in the Environment

Mass Rivers collaborates with river advocates statewide to support and strengthen programs that improve and restore our local waterways. 

 

Together, we push for increased funding for the state agencies who protect and steward our natural resources, like the Department of Environmental Protection and the Division of Ecological Restoration. We've led a successful effort to increase annual operating budgets by more than $18M in four years for one state agency and two state departments that protect rivers.  

Blackstone River, photo by Katharine Lange