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River Current

Monthly e-news from Charles River Watershed Association, an internationally-recognized leader in sustainable river management. Learn more at 



CRWA releases Transformation: Water Infrastructure for a Sustainable Future   


CRWA recently released Transformation: Water Infrastructure for a Sustainable Future, a short technical book compiling nearly three years of research on Community Water and Energy Resource Centers (CWERCs). Available in print and as an e-book on, this 75 page book lays out a vision for a future where water is treated as a valuable resource, waste is recycled, and infrastructure is sustainable and resilient. Learn more


Helping communities improve resiliency

CRWA staff have been accepted to Massachusetts’ Municipal Vulnerability Preparedness program (MVP), which will provide support for municipalities across the Commonwealth to plan for climate resiliency. MVP-certified providers will be trained to provide technical assistance to communities to complete vulnerability assessments and develop action-oriented resiliency plans.


Charles River watershed residents recycle rainwater

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After CRWA hosted a pilot rain barrel workshop in the fall of 2016, the Town of Franklin Department of Public Works (DPW) reached out to CRWA to help organize a workshop for Franklin residents. There was so much interest when the Town announced the workshop that we decided to offer two workshop sessions on the same day.

On Saturday, May 6th, residents across the Charles River Watershed were busy learning how to build rain barrels and rain gardens. At the rain barrel workshop DPW and CRWA staff showed residents how to select a location for their rain barrel, drill holes in their syrup drums for the downspout diverter and spigot, and maintain their finished barrels throughout the year. Through a nationwide program sponsored by River Network, of which CRWA is a member, CRWA was able to get recycled syrup drums from the Coca Cola bottling plant in Needham and adapter kits from The Rain Barrel Depot. During the workshop residents were directed to the Soak It Up Franklin website for access to information about water conservation and pollution prevention year-around. The website was designed in partnership with CRWA and is maintained by the Town of Franklin.

While the afternoon rain barrel workshop was underway, CRWA hosted a rain garden workshop in partnership with the Town of Watertown Department of Public Works and the Watertown Stormwater Advisory Committee. CRWA staff introduced Watertown residents to stormwater pollution problems and solutions before describing how to site and size a rain garden and select and maintain plants for it. Workshop participants were then able to tour the workshop site to see real stormwater retrofits that had been installed as part of an office park redevelopment last fall. For a preview of a rain garden workshop, check out the University of Connecticut’s free rain garden app and CRWA’s step-by-step design instructions on our website.

Both rain barrels and rain gardens are great ways to capture rainwater that falls on rooftops, driveways, or walkways and use it for outdoor watering for landscaping. Rain gardens and rain barrels reduce the need to use potable water for outdoor watering, which can be a huge benefit as outdoor watering restrictions kick in. Rain gardens also infiltrate water into the ground, recharging groundwater reserves that are needed to maintain flow in local streams and in the Charles River itself during warm summer months. Additionally, by reusing rainwater that falls on hard surfaces for landscaping, the soil is able to filter nutrient pollution, namely phosphorus, from the rainwater and prevent it from circulating in the environment.

If your school, business, or community group is interested in organizing a rain garden or rain barrel workshop, you may contact Elisabeth Cianciola at CRWA for more information. 

Construction underway on Edenfield Avenue green street


CRWA’s first green street project with Watertown is now underway on Edenfield Avenue. The street redesign includes a “road diet,” or narrowing of the roadway, which will encourage drivers to traverse the road at slower speeds, increasing cyclist and pedestrian safety; remove impervious surface; and create space in the right-of-way to construct attractive tree pits and bioswales that will filter stormwater runoff from the road before it reaches the Charles River. This project has been financed with Federal Funds from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection under an s. 319 competitive grant.  


Volunteer with CRWA this summer


This summer volunteer with CRWA to collect stream life or to remove invasive weeds. 

Help CRWA collect and identify insects and other organisms that live on the bottom of streams. To volunteer, attend a training on June 24th. Then join a team to sample two streams in July and August at a time your team chooses. Each sampling trip will take approximately 2-4 hours. Sign up to volunteer

Or volunteer with CRWA to hand-pull invasive weeds that are growing out of control in the Charles River, harming fish and hindering paddlers. Join us for the first Canoing for Clean Water volunteer event of the season on June 17th. Sign up today 


Soak Up the Rain New England Webinar Series
Tuesday, June 13, 2017
More info

World Oceans Day
Sunday, June 4, 2017
More info

Sea Level Rise Forum
June 11, 2017
More info

Canoeing for Clean Water Volunteer Event
Saturday, June 17, 2017
More info

View additional events


"Saving the Charles River since 1965"

Our mission is to use science, advocacy and the law to protect, preserve and enhance the Charles River and its watershed.

For more information about CRWA and our current programs, please visit


We depend on you to help us continue our important programs and to continue the work we began a half-century ago. Please consider a gift today.