‘Dirty Water’ No More


by Keith Regan, Holliston Patch

The Charles River Watershed Association has won a major international environmental prize.

The following release is from the Charles River Watershed Association

The Charles River, once the scourge of Boston epitomized in the Standell’s rock and roll classic “Dirty Water,” is the 2011 winner of the International Riverprize, the world’s most prestigious environmentalaward, the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) announced.

The International RiverFoundation’s (IRF) Thiess (pronounced “Teese”) International Riverprize, is awarded for visionary and sustainable excellence in river management.

Projects from more than 20 countries competed for this year’s Riverprize; CRWA accepted the award, the largest environmental prize in the world and a check for $250,000, at the 14th International River Symposium in Brisbane, Australia on Sept. 27.

In addition to the cash award, CRWA also received a $100,000 grant to share its river restoration expertise with a riverorganization in another country.

In 1965, when CRWA was founded, the Charles was an open sewer: tetanus shots and antibiotics were standard treatment for anyone unfortunate enough to fall in.

Today, the Charles is heralded as the cleanest urban river inthe United States by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The Riverprize recognizes and rewards this rejuvenation.“In the world of river management, this is akin to winning the World Series—and it was madepossible through the engagement, cooperation and hard work of hundreds of partners‐ at the federal, state,local and grassroots levels,” said Robert L. Zimmerman, Jr., CRWA’s Executive Director. “In the end, however, it’s a trophy for the people that live and work in the communities that comprise the Charles watershed, and foreveryone who loves this river.”

IRF CEO Matthew Reddy says “Charles River should be congratulated for their achievement; it joins the ranks of iconic rivers like the Thames, Danube and Mekong.”

“CRWA has fought for decades to bring the Charles back to life. This urban river is well on the path to recovery,and CRWA deserves great credit for raising awareness of the river’s problems; for pushing, pulling, and proddinggovernments at all levels; and for building the tools and testing the solutions to restore the river,” said Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator EPA New England.

“The Charles River is a resource cherished by Boston area residents, and an icon enjoyed by visitors from aroundthe world,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “The river’s renaissance is due to the hard work and dedication of organizations such as the Charles River Watershed Association, in partnership with federal, state and cityagencies, and it is gratifying to see that success recognized by this prestigious international competition.”

The Charles River is now safe for boating 90 percent of the time due to the dramatic improvements in water quality, and well over a million people enjoy the river and its parklands each year.

CRWA will use the priz emoney to continue to improve and protect the health of the Charles through fisheries restoration, water‐ sensitive design, and development of tools and practical solutions to watershed problems, including the growing problem of nutrients carried by stormwater to the river.

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