CRWA's advocacy and design work is directly guided by our river monitoring and our computer simulation monitoring. We have the ability to review and produce sound and independent scientific data, and through this program, CRWA has established one of the most extensive water quality data sets of any river in the nation.
CRWA is a science-based organization. To properly address the issues threatening the Charles River, CRWA must first perform high-quality, rigorous, scientific investigations to gain a thorough and accurate understanding of the river system. CRWA’s advocacy and design work are directly guided by our ability to review and produce scientific data.
Monitoring and measuring are key elements of any effort to change existing conditions, especially in a complex and dynamic system like an urban watershed.
CRWA has been monitoring change in the Charles River since 1995, and CRWA’s Field Science Program continues to serve as a model for monitoring programs across the region and throughout the country.
Today, due to significant budget cuts, many government agencies have eliminated or severely reduced their monitoring efforts, leaving CRWA’s program as the only robust, year-round sampling program spanning the full extent of the river. In this economy, with local, state and federal funds being cut further every year, non-profit organizations like CRWA are often the only resource available to collect basic water quality data on rivers and streams.
This data is essential to understanding the problems the river faces and to protecting human health, as well as for identifying trends and directing informed solutions to the areas where they are needed.
CRWA regularly collects waters samples which are analyzed for E. coli bacteria, nutrient parameters (primarily phosphorus and nitrogen), and total suspended solids. CRWA also measures streamflows, monitors fish and invertebrates, maps aquatic weed populations, and tracks sediment loads. All water quality and quantity monitoring and data analysis, review and publication is done in accordance with a strict EPA and MassDEP approved Quality Assurance Project Plan (QAPP). CRWA’s data is considered to be the highest quality data possible by these two agencies, equal in reliability to data collected by the agencies themselves.
In addition to monitoring baseline in-stream conditions, CRWA staff responds to potential spills and overflows, and measures the results of site-specific installations. This data allows us to measure the impact of projects, as well as track trends over time. CRWA’s Field Science Program is an essential part of our strategy to employ a scientifically based approach to identify and remediate problems facing the Charles.