Region 1: EPA New England
Science Reports (TMDL & Lab Reports)
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An Individual Makes A Difference
An important characteristic of the Clean Charles Initiative that has helped this effort to be successful is because of widespread support it receives – not only from EPA and State and local government agencies, but also from concerned and dedicated volunteer groups and individuals.
One individual who has played a large role in helping the Charles return to better ecological health is a local private citizen and kayak enthusiast: Roger Frymire. As a environmentalist who enjoys spending a lot of time paddling on the river he loves, Roger has helped the Clean Charles efforts significantly by collecting water samples during his regular excursions on the river. He has collected and sent to EPA's regional laboratory over 700 samples for analysis. These data have provided important information on water quality in different parts of the river, helping to identify previously unknown sources of bacterial contamination. Roger Frymire's work has been instrumental to the Charles River clean up.
A key component of EPA's ongoing efforts to clean the Charles River has been to apply the best, most current scientific data and methodologies to understanding the pollution issues in the river, and to measuring our progress cleaning the river.
When EPA established the Clean Charles Initiative in 1995, our strategy was to develop a comprehensive approach for improving water quality through CSO controls, removal of illicit sanitary connections, stormwater management planning and implementation, public outreach, education, monitoring, enforcement and technical assistance.
To support the initiative, EPA has conducted much monitoring in the Charles River Watershed. EPA monitoring reports can be found below. EPA's core monitoring program 1998-2007 data has been used to identify water conditions at reasource areas, document water quality impaired areas, track trends in the river, and to provide the necessary information for the development of a TMDL. Although EPA's Core Monitoring Program ended in 2007, EPA remains committed to support monitoring and science in the Charles River. EPA will continue to analyze hot spot bacteria samples collected in the Charles River watershed and will support efforts for special purpose monitoring.
Monitoring to Detect Pharmaceutical Products
Scientists from EPA's New England regional laboratory have conducted sampling to detect trace amounts of pharmaceutical and personal care products in the Charles River. This sampling has been done for two primary reasons: 1) to gather research information on PPCP concentratons in the Charles River; and 2) help identify human sources of bacteria or sewage contamination entering the river.
In 2005 and 2007, EPA performed sampling of PPCP indicators, including caffeine and over the counter pain relief medications.
Nationally, EPA is gathering information on levels and types of PPCP residues found in water in the U.S., because studies have shown that pharmaceuticals are present in our nation's waterbodies. Further research suggests that certain drugs may cause ecological harm. More research is needed to determine the extent of ecological harm and any role it may have in potential human health effects. To date, scientists have found no evidence of adverse human health effects from PPCPs in the environment. Typically, PPCP products occur in the environment in extremely small concentrations – measured in parts per billion or even parts per trillion. More information on EPA's efforts to research PPCP residues in waters.
For purposes of identifying problems, solutions and measuring progress, EPA has conducted studies to better understand water quality issues in the Charles. This section is designed to provide easy access to scientific research and reports that have contributed to the Clean Charles Initiative since 1995.
10 Year Report (2005) (PDF) (38 pp, 287 K)
A comprehensive program overview developed to mark 10 years of the Clean Charles Initiative
EPA Regional Laboratory Reports
- EPA's Annual Water Quality Report on the Lower Charles River 2006 (PDF) (15 pp, 1.9 MB)
- Older Charles River Core Monitoring Reports
Annual reports on the water quality of the Charles River based on data collected through the Core Monitoring Program.
Other Charles River Reports
- Results of Color and Clarity Monitoring in the Charles River During Spring and Summer of 2000 (PDF) (37 pp, 2.1 MB)
- Charles River Fish Contaminant Survey, April 2001 (PDF) (69 pp, 8.9 MB)
- Charles River Water Quality Survey, December 1998 (PDF) (49 pp, 2.3 MB)
- Charles River Sediment/Water Quality Analysis Project Report, January 1997 (PDF) (47 pp, 3 MB)
- The Charles River, Eastern Massachusetts: Scientific Information in Support of Environmental Restoration; General Information Product 47; (2007)
- Water Resources and the Urban Environment, Lower Charles River Watershed, Massachusetts, 1630–2005 (2005)
- Spatial Distribution, Temporal Variability, and Chemistry of the Salt Wedge in the Lower Charles River, Massachusetts, June 1998 to July 1999.
- Potential Effects of Structural Controls and Street Sweeping on Stormwater Loads to the Lower Charles River, Massachusetts.
- Measured and Simulated Runoff to the Lower Charles River, Massachusetts, October 1999-September 2000.
- Distribution and Potential for Adverse Biological Effects of Inorganic Elements and Organic Compounds in Bottom Sediment, Lower Charles River, Mass.
EPA funded and partnered with Rocky Mountain Institute to conduct first national research paper on benefits of daylighting.
NEIWPCC Reports (PDF) (36 pp, 321 K)
Two studies assessing the performance of the Gunderboom system as a means of creating an engineered swimming area on the Charles