CRWA's advocacy and design work require a strong scientific and holistic understanding of the Charles River watershed. As a result, CRWA began a comprehensive water quality monitoring program for the Charles River and its tributaries in 1995, which includes a foundation of water quality data generated by volunteers.
This data provides baseline information of the river's health and allows for the analysis of spatial, temporal, and meteorological water quality trends for a number of water quality parameters.
Through this program, CRWA has established the most consistent and comprehensive data set for the Charles River watershed, and one of the most extensive water quality data sets of any river in the nation
CRWA's Volunteer Water Quality Monitoring Program is one of the oldest and largest volunteer sampling programs in the country. Once a month, more than eighty volunteers, or "citizen scientists, gather at multiple sites along the Charles River to collect water samples, measure depth and temperature, and record river conditions.
The data collected by volunteers is used to identify problems in the river and trends in water quality, and to track the progress of efforts to clean up the Charles. In addition to monthly monitoring by volunteers, CRWA staff conducts targeted water quality monitoring and collects critical data to verify and/or gather additional information about polluted areas of the river.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency continues to use CRWA’s data to award a grade for the annual Charles River Report Card. Our data and analyses also assist municipalities and environmental agencies and organizations who work to minimize stormwater impacts and reduce sewage contamination in the river.