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Region 1: EPA New England

Basic Information

The Mystic River, which flows from the Mystic Lakes in Arlington through Medford, Somerville, Everett, Charlestown and Chelsea to Boston Harbor, is one of the great urban rivers of New England.  The river and the watershed that feeds it, served as an epicenter of early activity from which sprung early settlement and economic activity in the colonies: mills, shipyards, villages. Unfortunately, settlement and industrial activity have not been as kind to the watershed.

As the watershed developed, fields were replaced with parking lots, footpaths with highways, pastoral riverbanks with polluting industrial activity and shipyards with oil storage facilities.  All these have contributed to the decline of the watershed and water quality in the Mystic River.

It is now time to restore this watershed, to make it a place that once again provides opportunity for activity—both recreational and industrial—that benefits its citizens with a clean and healthy natural environment.

In April of 2007, EPA New England issued a Report Card on the Mystic, giving the River a grade of D for water quality.  The River was meeting water quality bacterial standards for swimming just 52% of the time and boating standards 67% of the time. At the same time it issued its grade, EPA launched an effort aimed at improving water quality in the Mystic watershed.  EPA will employ strategies it has found useful in its efforts to restore other urban rivers and it will find new ones with the help of the watershed’s many involved citizens.

This website provides background information on the watershed, a list of important contacts, updates of events and activities, and an invitation to become part of the solution. Learn more about our April 10, 2008 Mystic River Summit.

Where is the Mystic River Watershed? (Maps)

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