The Charles River, known as the infamous “Dirty Water” from the Standell song and warmly nicknamed “Chuck” by local rowers, collects from a total land area of 308 square miles. Boston marathoners race 26 miles from Hopkinton to Boston, but the Charles River twists and turns on an 80-mile course between the same points. Because of its meandering nature, the river flows through 23 communities, adding many political complexities to watershed management. Some 80 brooks and streams, and several major aquifers, feed the Charles River. Its watershed contains 33 lakes and ponds—most of them manmade. The river drops about 350 feet in its unhurried journey to the sea. Lacking speed and force, the slow-moving Charles River will always be brownish in color, no matter how clean it becomes. River water steeps like tea through the abundant wetlands along its path.