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Charles River Watershed Association, Inc.

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Environment, Pollution Abatement & Control, Water, Water Resources, Wetlands Conservation & Management

Mission: Charles River Watershed Association''s mission is to use science, advocacy and the law to protect, preserve and enhance the Charles River and its watershed.

CRWA works to: 

  • Develops a sound, science-based understanding of interactions in the watershed.
  • Defines long-term, cutting-edge solutions to watershed problems.
  • Promotes sustainable watershed management practices with government agencies and private entities.
  • Advocates protection, revitalization, and expansion of public parklands along the Charles.

Geographic areas served: Eastern MA, New England

Programs: Sincethe hiring of its first staff scientist in 1994, and conducting the firstvolunteer water quality sampling event in 1995, the Charles River WatershedAssociation (CRWA) has been committed to using data and science to findsolutions to the river’s problems. Oneof the most critical components of CRWA’s work is water quality monitoring, andthe anchor of this effort is the Charles River Volunteer Monthly Monitoring Program, aprogram involving a network of over 70 trained volunteer water quality monitorswho collect samples once per month at 35 locations along the river.   The efforts of this volunteer program over thepast 14 years have resulted in one of the most comprehensive water quality datasets of any river in the nation.

Community Stories

2 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters



Rating: 5

In 1986 I began canoe racing in the Run of the Charles, sponsored by CWRA. Canoeing on the Charles gradually became a daily, year round activity and I participated in the race for 25 consecutive years. The river found its place in my heart and the benefits of CRWA to the health of the river have been abundantly obvious. Gradually, I have turned from canoeing fast to canoeing slowly, drinking in the beauty and taking photographs at every turn. The array of wildlife to capture in pictures is astounding for a river that winds through suburb and city. Water quality is high, particularly in the upstream stretches where rope swings are in frequent summer use, fish are plentiful and the birds and mammals that feed on fish are ever increasing. Bird life is as abundant as in a national park. Watching the signets, ducklings and goslings arrive every spring, the orioles hang their nests, the blackbirds guard their territory; then life cycle through the hot, lazy days of summer when the banks burst into blossom and heron stalk fish; the brilliant colors of fall foliage reflect on the water; finally the return of the winter ducks, sightings of otter, mink and fisher on the ice, and the lives lost to the harsh cold; all of this gives us a sense of our place in the flow of life. The efforts of CRWA to clean and sustain the river's flow are essential to all that the Charles gives us. I am very grateful. For me as a photographer, CRWA has made wonderful use of my images. I also participate in river cleanups, an immediately gratifying effort organized by CRWA. But their vision is far beyond my small efforts, combining science, education and advocacy for the whole watershed to sustain a healthy river vibrantly full of life.


Board Member

Rating: 5

The Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) is an amazingly effective organization that has worked hard for more then 40 years to clean up the most important river in eastern Massachusetts, the Charles. The organization is lean and mean, using the expertise of scientists, urban planners, engineers, lawyers and a multitude of volunteers to ensure that both wildlife and human activity thrive despite the encroachment of urban development. Everyone who lives, works, studies or plays in sight of this river should get involved with CRWA.