RIVER CHALLENGES

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It’s surprisingly complicated to keep rivers and their ecosystems healthy.  For several centuries, humans have been using rivers for drinking water and irrigation, to transport waste, and to power industry.  We’ve dammed them for power, flood control, and to create water supply reservoirs. In part due to our excessive water use, some rivers, such as the Ipswich regularly become very low or even dry up altogether during dry summers.  We discharge treated sewage and industrial waste into our rivers, and we’ve disconnected them with not just dams, but culverted road crossings.  Roads, parking lots and rooftops send warm runoff into storm drains, picking up road salt, sand, nutrients from fertilizers, dog and goose poop, gas and oil, and other pollutants en route to the nearest river or stream.  And combined sewer overflows send millions of gallons of raw sewage into rivers each year, following storms.  It can be tough to be a river in Massachusetts.  The resulting problems include unnaturally low flows, eutrophication (growth of green algae and other nuisance aquatic plants), and decreases in wildlife species that need clean, cold water to thrive.  Water pollution and low flow can make it difficult to enjoy boating, fishing or swimming our rivers - and sometimes even walking along them.  And most of these problems are exacerbated by climate change’s increasingly severe and frequent droughts and storms.  Finally, like many other environmental challenges, these problems can disproportionately affect poorer communities, both urban and rural, and communities of color.

 

The Massachusetts Rivers Alliance was created to address these issues, and since our founding in 2007, we have been doing exactly that.  We work with a large and varied group of partners, including our member organizations and other nonprofit groups, government agency leaders, municipalities, planners, legislators, and many others to develop solutions and push for change.  We are proud of the progress we’ve made so far.  You can read about some of our accomplishments here and you can learn more about river challenges and our ongoing work in this section. Click the links below to learn more about each challenge:

 

 

Below is a list of additional resources for each of these issues.

Dam removals

 

Alex Hackman, Ecological Restoration Specialist

alex.hackman@mass.gov

Culvert replacements

 

Carrie Banks, Stream Continuity Restoration Planner

carrie.banks@mass.gov 

413-579-3015

Aquatic invasives

 

Jim Straub, Program Coordinator

jim.straub@mass.gov

617-626-1411

 

Tom Flannery, Aquatic Ecologist 

tom.flannery2@mass.gov

617-626-4975

State and Local Contacts for River Issues

Stormwater pollution 

  • Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection

  • MassDEP is located at 1 Winter Street, Boston, MA 02114.

 

Laura Schifman, State Stormwater Coordinator

laura.schifman@mass.gov  

617-556-1157

 

Wetlands encroachment

 

Coldwater streams

 

Adam Kautza, Coldwater Fishery Resource Project Leader 

adam.kautza@mass.gov 

508-389-6302

 

Fish kills

ABOUT US >

Founded in 2007, Mass Rivers works to strengthen statewide river policies in four areas: Water quality, stream flow, wildlife habitat, and investment in green infrastructure.

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CONTACT >

gretchenmcclain@massriversalliance.org

617.714.4272

2343 Massachusetts Ave

Cambridge, MA 02140

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