Newton Conservation Commission OK’s Charles River dredging plan


By Dan Adams, Boston Globe Correspondent

The Newton Conservation Commission last night voted to accept a plan by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority to dredge mounds of soil out of the Charles River basin that are left over from last year’s catastrophic water main break in Weston.

The MWRA’s revised plan, based on data from a new river survey, now calls for additional dredging on Newton’s side of the Charles, where boaters at the Newton Boathouse and members of the Charles River Watershed Association have complained of changes to the riverbed. Originally, the MWRA had said it would only remove the two main mounds of soil it found on the Weston side of the Charles during an initial survey of the river bottom.

While the MWRA’s data did not conclusively link changes in depth near the Newton Boathouse to the water main break, the agency agreed to dredge there after hearing feedback from representatives of the watershed association, the Charles River Canoe and Kayak company, and Lasell College.

“We’re under serious time constraints,” said MWRA Policy and Planning Manager Pamela Heidell at the meeting. “Rather than argue and argue, we just want to resolve things and move forward.”

Kate Bowditch, the watershed association’s director of projects, welcomed the MWRA’s change of heart.

“We were happy to see they did additional information gathering,” Bowditch said. “It’s a significant step forward and we’re certainly in support of [the proposal] before you.”

Michael R. Pelletier of Green International Affiliates, which is consulting for the MWRA on the dredging project, said that work would likely begin at the end of August, pending the issuance of permits by the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Canton-based Barletta Companies, which has previously worked with the MWRA on the construction of a new water main connecting the Quabbin Reservoir to Boston and other Eastern Massachusetts towns, will conduct the actual dredging operation.

Pelletier said that approximately 400 cubic yards of soil would be removed, enough to fill about 20 18- wheeler trucks.

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