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Boston Area 4th Annual Water Forum and Cambridge

Annual Boston Water Conference Points towards Future Environmental Changes
Adaptation and Compliance Needed in Massachusetts
by Ellen Mass

Fourth Annual Water Conference held at Boston Society of Architects brought all major water and sewer agencies and watershed associations, businesses and municipal consultants together to discuss future prospects for conservation gains in Massachusetts. Executive Office of Environmental Affairs (EOEEA) speaker Secretary, Matthew Beaton, noted that Massachusetts is one of 3 states still using US-EPA for storm water and waste water pollution standards and enforcement. We want them to continue to save the state close to 10 million a year and doing a high quality job. Ellen Mass will attend state house hearings today at 1pm to ask Governor not to take 7 to 10 million revenue away from this grand and useful anti-pollution service. Our rivers and watersheds have become cleaner because of it. State apparatus is not equipped at this time to monitor and enforce these high federal standards, maintains many in the watershed movement meeting and campaigning on this issue. Friends of Alewife Reservation questions this recommendation because Cambridge has received a ‘D minus’ federal report card for Alewife sub-watershed (Little River of one mile) of the Mystic River watershed, and an ‘F’ grade for the same sub-watershed of Belmont’s Little Pond and Perch Pond via Wellington Brook in the North Cambridge Highlands area on border of Belmont indicating high dangerous bacteria counts.

EOEEA Sec. spoke highly of Mass Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and Charles River Watershed’s Annual Forum initiative for sharing success and concerns for future waste water and storm water protections in the future. Austin Blackmon represented Boston Mayor’s office in attempts to solve varied approaches to the coming climate changing storm water and waste water challenges. FAR was pleased to see high level discussions coming from the Charles River Watershed Association’s organizing of this annual conference in Boston.

According to Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) head, Fred Laskey, thousands of Ma. open space acres are now preserved for the state because of lands and recent aqueduct purchases for needed protected infrastructure costing around 900 million dollars. Locally, the Alewife sewage cut off achievement (CSO separation) is based on 10 year federal court order now completed says MWRA so that an 85 percent improvement must be seen soon by EPA in the Little River which is key to towns north of Arlington, Somerville, Medford and eventually, Mystic River. Alewife is receiving some of the greatest development volume of residential projects in the country say Boston real estate magazines and the future developments are on a floodplain area.

Interesting and persuasive arguments were presented for de-centralizing and overhauling waste water treatment processes by CRWA. A more regional and smaller ‘natural systems’ approach is required says Charles River Watershed (CRWA) head, Robert Zimmerman, who spoke of beneficial results from local attenuation and ecological restoration. In addition, economic benefits for reducing storm water run off, and for restoring local ecology are best, far-reaching for open space and flooding benefits (in dense urban centers like Cambridge and Somerville) throughout the Commonwealth.

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About Friends of Alewife Reservation

The Alewife Reservation is a unique natural resource for the communities of Belmont, Arlington and Cambridge and home to hundreds of species, including hawks, coyotes beavers, snapping turtles, wild turkeys and muskrats, the reservation is a unique natural resource for the community.
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Friends of Alewife Reservation works to protect and restore this wild area and the surrounding area for the water quality, native plants, animals and over 90 bird species with paths for walking, running and biking, recreation, and for classroom education and research. We regularly steward and preserve the Reservation area for wildlife and for the enjoyment of present and future generations.

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