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On the River Today
Mini Current: On the River Now

Studying options for Watertown Dam for migratory fish and flood resilience

Watertown Dam

Restoring native fish populations including American shad, blueback herring and alewife—fish that return from the ocean to the Charles River to spawn—is a priority for CRWA. We are also working on climate change adaptation measures that will provide resilience to flooding and restore floodplains critical for accommodating flood flows.

Watertown Dam, the first upstream obstruction after the New Charles River Dam located at the mouth of the river and the harbor, was recently designated a Priority Project by the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) at CRWA's request. The dam is a major impediment to migratory fish, which have difficulty traversing the dam and suffer from predation by herons and seagulls in the shallow water below the dam. CRWA will be working with the Department of Conservation and Recreation and DER to evaluate the costs and benefits of removing or altering the Watertown Dam. Removal of the dam would reconnect 2 miles of habitat upstream and help to alleviate flooding during extreme storm events, which are predicted to occur with greater frequency with climate change.

The feasibility study, although not yet currently funded, will evaluate benefits to the community of dam removal, habitat and river health improvements, increased recreational opportunities, and decreased maintenance costs as well as the potential downsides to removal. We look forward to working with the communities of Watertown, Waltham and Newton as this study progresses. Read more in the Watertown Tab or view our dam removal FAQ

Environmental news roundup

eagles.jpgPresident Trump issued an executive order last month requiring federal agencies, including the U.S. EPA, to offset the costs of each new regulation by the elimination of two others. Implementing this order would put the environment and our communities at risk since it does not take into consideration the important benefits to society that these regulations create including clean water and clean air. 

Hundreds of current and former EPA employees are urging the Senate to reject Trump’s nominee for the agency as reported by the Washington Post. The New York Times looks at Mr. Pruitt's likely approach if he were confirmed as head of EPA. 

Charles River Watershed Association's 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