top of page


It can be tough to be a river in Massachusetts.

We’ve dammed rivers for power, flood control, and to create water supply reservoirs, which interrupt the river's natural flow and inhibit fish passage.

Sometimes drought and excessive withdrawals cause rivers to have extremely low flow, or even run dry.

We discharge treated sewage and industrial waste into our rivers, 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. Combined sewer overflows send millions of gallons of raw sewage into rivers each year, following storms.  


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. Learn more about each challenge facing our rivers and what we are doing to champion solutions:

Learn about the main types of pollution that impact our rivers and water supplies.

Massachusetts has over 3,000 dams, many of which are obsolete and dangerous. Learn about how dams impact rivers and what we are doing to help. 

Even water-rich New England experiences drought and they are getting more frequent and more severe. Learn about what Mass Rivers is doing to help.

Protecting Wetlands

Wetland are critical to healthy rivers. Learn about what they do and how we are protecting these critical natural resources.

Climate change exacerbates issues for both water quality and quantity. Learn about ways we can act now to adapt to these changes. 

Dam removals


Alex Hackman, Ecological Restoration Specialist

Culvert replacements


Carrie Banks, Stream Continuity Restoration Planner 


Aquatic invasives


Jim Straub, Program Coordinator



Tom Flannery, Aquatic Ecologist


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  



Wetlands encroachment


Coldwater streams


Adam Kautza, Coldwater Fishery Resource Project Leader 



Fish kills

bottom of page