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Region 1: EPA New England

Accomplishments to Date of the Mystic River Watershed Initiative

Ongoing Accomplishments

  • Real-Time Monitoring: EPA is conducting real-time monitoring using a remote sensing buoy near the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse to track water quality conditions and cyanobacteria blooms for the fourth year in a row.
  • Stopping Illicit Connections: EPA enforcement efforts have stopped over 14,000 gallons per day of sewage from being discharged to the watershed through illicit connections (a 4,000 gallon increase since 2009).
  • Providing Equipment: EPA Region 1 has loaned over $14,000 worth of monitoring equipment to the Mystic River Watershed Association in support of baseline and hot spot monitoring programs, as well as microbiology assistance. The agency has analyzed over 2,000 samples from the Mystic River Watershed for E. coli and Enterococcus bacteria.
  • Steering Committee Efforts: The Steering Committee has formed subcommittees to focus on the mission and priorities of the Steering Committee: to help establish strategic direction and priorities as well as to recommend and promote key projects and actions needed to improve environmental conditions in the Mystic River Watershed.

January 2013

  • Urban Waters Academic Forum: EPA organized the Urban Waters Academic Forum to bring together academic professionals to explore areas for future collaboration on urban water issues in the Mystic River, Neponset River, and Charles River Watersheds, with a focus on the challenges of stormwater and nutrient pollution in these urbanized watersheds.
  • Mystic River Water Quality Science Forum (PDF) (6 pp, 41 K, about PDF): EPA Region 1 hosted this forum to update stakeholders on water quality and environmental conditions, learn from success stories, and foster discussion on what action will be needed to increase publicity and funding in order to achieve goals in the coming year.

August 2012

  • Enforcement Litigation: As a result of EPA enforcement action under the Clean Water Act, Sterling Suffolk Racecourse LLC (Suffolk Downs) was required to pay a civil penalty of $1.25 million and will perform three environmental projects that provide water quality monitoring and protection. This includes implementing green infrastructure and low impact development techniques to address stormwater discharges from the racetrack and maintenance areas of the facility.
  • Greening Boston's Infrastructure: As a result of a consent decree between EPA and the Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC), BWSC was required to implement extensive remedial measures to minimize the discharge of sewage and other pollutants into the water bodies in and around Boston, including the Mystic River. This settlement will produce lasting benefits for the people of Boston, incorporating green infrastructure, low impact development, and other controls that will help reduce harmful discharges and protect the environment.

September 2012

  • Porous Pavement Project: EPA Region 1 used regional and national funds to construct a porous asphalt stormwater best management practice (BMP) retrofit in Arlington, MA, as part of an education and outreach project under the Clean Water Act. The Hurd Field, Arlington, MA, parking lot was designed and constructed over the course of 2012 and completed in September of 2012. Under an agreement with the Town of Arlington, the Town will maintain the parking lot and EPA and the Town will observe the BMP over time to better understand the performance and longevity of this BMP technology. EPA will use the project as an opportunity to inform practitioners as to the overall efficacy of porous asphalt for stormwater control in urban areas. In addition, the project will help to improve water quality in Mill Brook, an impaired waterbody in the Mystic River Watershed. A video detailing the project can be found at: porouspavementproject.html

January 2012

  • Supporting the City of Chelsea (PDF) (2 pp, 135 K, about PDF): EPA Region 1 provided technical assistance to complete a detailed review of the City of Chelsea's existing codes and ordinances with specific recommendations for: incorporating green infrastructure in the City; a technical support documents summarizing the range of GI techniques (including costs, operation, and maintenance, etc.) that may best be employed considering the City's constrained urban areas and class C/D soils; and a convenient informational brochure summarizing pertinent information on incorporating GI within the City. Also, this led to a December 2012 information workshop for the City's officials and board to better understand GI.

December 2011

  • MOU with UMass Boston (PDF) (8 pp, 2.2 MB, about PDF): EPA Region 1 signed an MOU with UMass Boston for the region's Urban Waters/Mystic River University Collaborative. EPA hired a co-op student in 2010 and is working closely with UMass Boston to support its urban waters/Mystic River Watershed efforts, beach, nonpoint source and other programs.

October 2011

  • Improved Permitting of ExxonMobil: Two years after the settlement with ExxonMobil, EPA issued a modified permit that incorporated the substantial improvements ExxonMobil made to the stormwater management system at its Everett Terminal. The facility upgrades greatly improve the capacity of the stormwater system to collect, store and treat large storm events and provide advanced treatment for residual contaminated groundwater that infiltrates into the stormwater collection system.

April 2011

  • Stormwater Workshop: EPA Region 1 held a stormwater workshop in Chelsea, MA to review the provisions of the draft North Coastal small MS4 NPDES permit and low impact development techniques.

August 2010

  • Consent Decree in Revere: Under the terms of a Consent Decree lodged in federal court, Mass EPA reached a settlement with the City of Revere to spend approximately $50 million on infrastructure improvements. This will be used to significantly reduce illegal discharges of raw sewage overflows into the Mystic River Watershed from its wastewater collection system and separate storm sewer system.


  • Financial Support: EPA Region 1 awarded $9,000 to the Mystic River Watershed Association and community partners to support stormwater education and outreach efforts in the watershed.


  • ExxonMobil Litigation: The Mystic River Watershed received grant funding derived from the criminal sentence imposed in the federal Clean Water Act case against ExxonMobil Pipeline Company. As a result of this case, the Massachusetts Environmental Trust issued $1 million in grants and the North American Wetlands Conservation Trust issued $1,663,150 in grants all for environmental projects to the Mystic River and Chelsea Creek.

May 2008

  • Administrative Order to Reduce Bacterial Waste: EPA ordered Suffolk Downs to immediately cease discharging pollutants being discharged to Sales Creek, a tributary in the Mystic River Watershed. Suffolk now routinely inspects its facility for discharges to Sales Creek and the adjacent wetland and collects limited dry- and wet-weather samples from its outfalls.

April 2008

  • Mystic River Watershed Summit (PDF) (2 pp, 14 K, about PDF): EPA Region 1 held a Mystic River Watershed Summit that focused on Flooding, Industrial Contaminants, Bacteria and Stormwater, and Reconnecting people to the river. The summit was attended by over 150 people.

December 2001

  • Funds for Real-Time Monitoring: EPA Region 1 awarded $363,257 to Somerville to develop a state-of-the-art system that can predict, assess and report the Mystic River's water quality in real time. Residents will be able to check water quality indicators online or by flags along the river to determine whether sewer overflows and runoff have made the water unsafe for recreational use.

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