"What's the deal with this river?" I asked myself for years after moving to Arlington in the 80's. I wasn't even sure what I was asking. It took me a long time to figure out the validity of the question and that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) would answer the question with "is it swimmable & boatable"? I first volunteered for MyRWA collecting water samples to help the EPA make these determinations. MyRWA is a wonderful organization, with very qualified and dedicated staff who are well versed in science, the environment and advocacy. They work tirelessly to advocate for the watershed, its waterways and public lands. Endless thanks to MyRWA for all they do for our urban lakes and rivers.
After volunteering for a year as a water quality monitor on the Aberjona River in Winchester, I sought out board members to join the board and help with Outreach.
My two year perspective as a board member is that this organization has had a lot of lives and has completely transformed itself in two years. With its amazing staff, university ties and dedicated volunteers it's not only providing strong, science-based water quality data from fifteen sites in the watershed, but it's also working closely with local, state and federal officials to make substantive improvements in our valuable water resources.
If you want to be part of an organization that will be credited with cleaning up the Mystic River Watershed (MRW)-- from the Aberjona in Reading to East Boston and Charlestown where the Mystic spills into Boston Harbor, then now is the time to get involved!
I remember sailing in the Charles River twenty five years ago & getting urgent instructions about what to do if I fell in the water since it was so polluted. Today, the Charles River routinely gets a grade of B from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Boston Harbor was once the most polluted harbor in the country and now it gets high marks for water quality. The Mystic River is next. Once routinely graded D, the MRW has received a grade of C- for the last two years. Nothing to write home about, but I'll take the improvement and the staff and volunteers are systematically providing data to towns and organizations that can stop polluting and help improve water quality.
Please join us & play an important part as citizen volunteer for clean water in our communities. MyRWA is a great and effective organization, you'll be glad you got involved!
I know that MyRWA is a truly phenomenal organization because it has unlocked my own potential to contribute to their mission. Through interacting with MyRWAs highly skilled staff and ever-growing network of dedicated volunteers, my interest in the local environment of our watershed has become a passion. For three years now, I have volunteered multiple times per month at MyRWA-organized river cleanups, tables at public outreach events, and advocacy through public hearings and letter writing. Each time I interact with the staff and volunteers, I relish the opportunity to learn more about our community and to see role models for how to give back to it.
In 2008, I brought my kids to a small city festival on the Mystic River in Medford, MA. We built sculptures out of recycling materials, listened and danced to music, and celebrated life. Upon leaving, I happened upon the Mystic River Watershed Association's information table. The executive director, EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, was operating the table. Despite my exhausted kids' protests, EK engaged me fully with the Mystic. His passion for the river reflected in his eyes and became a beneficial contagion for me. From that moment on, the Mystic became an important part of my life. The Association brought me in little by little; a lot by a lot. I became a citizen scientist by regularly gathering water samples, became a "super fan", and now work even more locally on the Malden River. Not only has this group brought me to a higher level of civil engagement, but I have found a ring of friends bonded by a river. Another point of importance is the continued encouragement of small actions by a rapidly growing Mystic River Watershed Association. My commitment to MyWRA strengthens through the recognition that the Association displays towards every small action by its members.
It has been a great pleasure to work as a volunteer with the MyRWA staff. I paddled the river for years without being aware of this group. Recently I have helped with special events and the Clean Water Campaign that was recently announced. I am delighted to give something back to this beautiful river/resource that has provided me with so many great workouts and outdoor experiences.
Arlington's Vision 2020 Sustainable Arlington (I'm a member) learned a lot from MyRWA during a "Windows on Water" film series we put together. The MyRWA staff spoke at a few of our events and helped us bring specific information about local water quality to our discussions relating to climate change and crumbling water infrastructure. Subsequently, our two organizations are more closely collaborating on exciting projects such as installing rain gardens in key locations around town. I've worked directly with board members, staff and volunteers of this organization. This is an organization that puts its heart into the community and is always available as a resource and partner.
As a baby-boomer, I confess I have some feelings of guilt about the way my generation has treated this planet of ours. Lending MyRWA an hour or two here and there to monitor water quality is a small but satisfying contribution I can make with the hope that, if enough people like me get interested and involved, maybe our water resources can get back on a path to sustained health.
After participating in a few riverbank cleanup efforts, three years ago I responded to a call for "Citizen Scientists" and wound up doing monthly baseline sampling at Alewife Brook, sampling that continues still. Notwithstanding schedules that this time of year are at "dark-thirty" and that soon enough will force us to move briskly lest our samples freeze, I actually look forward to the third Thursday of the month, which is when my site's samples are collected.
In addition to regularly-scheduled baseline samples, from time to time, we also make a circuit of some locations that are historically problematic with phosphates and ammonia as well as the usual bacterial concerns. A couple of weeks ago, I looked at the list of sites that we've visited in the last two years and was surprised to see that there were 156 locations that I had bothered to map and doubtless there are other sites that I didn't map.
Lately there have been opportunities for me to construct a few custom jigs and fixtures to speed the sample collection activities and facilitate some lab operations. This has motivated me to get out in my machine shop and add some material to my sawdust pile.
So ... doing something that's useful has its appeal, but the fact is, being around, and working to a common purpose with, MyRWA staff and my fellow volunteers is rewarding in itself.
I started out innocently enough helping with river cleanups along the banks of the Mystic River. Then I graduated to participating in the Herring Run and acting as 'sweep' for the paddle race. And then I helped with grant management and accounting issues. I acted as an interim Water Quality Monitoring Director and now I find myself loving my involvement as a board member and Treasurer of this wonderful organization. The staff are superb and our volunteers are dedicated and super knowledgeable. The River is improving every decade and I'm delighted to be part of the effort.
Review from Guidestar