Charles River Gets B+ For Water Quality, Down Slightly From Last Year

(Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via Flickr)
(Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism via Flickr)

While this year's report card on the water quality of the Charles River is good, the Environmental Protection Agency says it shows a continued need for improvement.

Back in 1995, when the EPA launched its water quality improvement effort for the Charles River, the report card on the health of the river was a D. Today it's a B+, down slightly from last year.

"It was an A- last year, but that variation is probably due to rain," explained the EPA's New England regional administrator, Curt Spalding. "On the other hand, we have to be worried because with climate change we're going to have more rain and this rating really goes with rainfall. So we are concerned about the future."

Spalding says the river is generally safe for boating, a little less so for swimming. Based on bacterial contamination found in samples collected at several monitoring sites along the river over the past year, the Charles met water quality standards for boating 91 percent of the time and for swimming 65 percent of the time.

Spalding believes much of the recent development in the city is thanks in part to the improved water quality of the harbor and the Charles River.

"For Boston, cleaning up the waterways has been the key to the prosperity we enjoy today," Spalding said. "There's a whole lot of construction going on at the Seaport, that wouldn't be happening if Boston was an open sewer like it used to be."

The EPA on Friday also announced it had launched a water quality monitoring buoy near the Museum of Science that will transmit real-time data to a website for public monitoring.

"Every 15 minutes the buoy will show how much oxygen is in the water, how much chlorophyll is in the water, a number of parameters that we use to measure water quality," Spalding said.

An exhibit about the Charles River set to open in February at the Museum of Science will include that live water quality data.


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Delores Handy Reporter
Delores Handy was formerly a host and reporter at WBUR.



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