Sunday, April 21, 2024

The condition of the Mystic River has been subject to much press attention lately. While it is wonderful to see increased interest in water quality, we would like to clarify that the water quality in the Mystic is fairly similar to that of the Charles River.

The Wastewater Advisory Committee, a citizens group that provides an independent forum for discussion of issues facing the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, has reviewed the data on both rivers. Unfortunately, despite the many millions of dollars the MWRA has spent since 1990, pollution still flows into the Neponset, the Charles and the Mystic rivers during wet weather.

But the quality of water in the Mystic should see improvement in the next three years.  The MWRA and the City of Cambridge together will spend at least $85 million in the next few years to complete work along the Alewife Brook, where volunteer water-quality testers find the highest levels of water pollution after storm events.

The MWRA is also studying its pipes along the Mystic to identify any opportunities to reduce overflows by optimizing the wastewater system’s wet-weather performance in a cost-effective way.

Once all this work is complete, the Mystic’s water quality should be better.

Unfortunately, pollution will still flow during some storms. Part of the solution will be making expensive repairs and updates to municipal sewers, which Cambridge and other Mystic communities strain to afford. While the MWRA has provided Cambridge with $11 million in grants and loans since 1993 to help with this work, the responsibility to keep pollution from the Mystic demands an even broader shared responsibility – including state and federal dollars.

Stephen Greene, chairman of the Wastewater Advisory Committee to the MWRA