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Cambridge, Belmont Arlington and Harbor Waterways at Risk

Great concerns for failing water quality loom

Kathleen Johnson, Ellen Mass
Friends of Alewife Reservation

Friends of Alewife Reservation continues to ask, 'no more city permits' given on the regional Little River floodplain in the west city quadrangle. The new Alewife Committee must investigate the high e-coli and coliform counts presented on the city website of 2015 which shows enterococci 75, e-coli, 62,000 CFU/100ml, and 28,000 CFU for fecal coliform at Normandy Terrace, flowing to a major tributary of the Mystic River watershed, a stone's throw from the new Alewife- Concord zoned residential area where developers want building permits (around 2500 units anticipated).

Warning signs around the ponds and river should state, "Don't touch or go near the water" such as Blair Pond, Wellington Brook, Little River, and perhaps Yates and Jerry's Pond, all which received a failing grade of D- or D, and iwe are noted as one of worst water bodies in the Commonwealth. Community Development chose businessmen for the Alewife group without environmentalists risking the future of thousands of residents down stream in Arlington and Somerville, Cambridge Highlands neighborhood and Columbus Ave residents, ignoring climate change is here and floodplain is needed. City Variances (7 since 1998) mean delays to compliance of federal conservation laws, especially Clean Water Act. Few staff monitor and test for our safety and health. More are needed to stop contamination from outfalls and storm water run off and especially illicit connections from homes, now plaguing Alewife waterways.

Elevated phosphorus and ammonia levels in Cambridge bring dangerous blue-green algae contained in Spy Pond to flow into Belmont's Little Pond and Cambridge's Little River, then Arlington and Somerville, down Alewife Brook (See chart) to the Mystic, Harbor. and finally ocean. We citizens deserve to survive, threatened with infection and non-reparable property damage if elevated water levels arrive anytime soon, say best scientist evaluation.

If the region, including the towns, abide by the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES), going forward, this would not happen. Grateful our Legislative Natural Resources Committee tabled the Governor's proposal to forego direct federal jurisdiction in these conservation matters. State Committee temporarily ignored DEP arguments for managing all Clean Water Act matters.

Cambridge should attain its federal commitment of 85 percent water quality improvement, as quickly as possible, and blocking more development saturation when regulations are not being enforced. City has a DEP Hearing for another Variance to the DEP, August 8th, making 8 delays since 1998 to care for the River with Belmont.

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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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