World Water Day: Partners Celebrate the Charles River, Winner of the International Riverprize
Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA) celebrated World Water Day, held annually on March 22nd, by honoring its partners – agencies, cities and towns, nonprofits and businesses – that have contributed to making the Charles River the cleanest urban river in the nation. In September, the Charles River won the International Riverprize awarded by the International RiverFoundation (IRF) in Brisbane, Australia. Peter Krause, IRF Board member, was on hand to present awards to over 25 CRWA partners in the cleanup of the Charles.
Once famous in song as “that dirty water” (the Standells, 1966), the Charles began its turnaround in the 1990s with major efforts to stop sewage from flowing into the river. In those days, especially after heavy rain, the river was too dirty to meet state standards for boating – not to mention for swimming.
Today, thanks to hundreds of partners, countless hours of effort, and the expenditure of millions of public dollars, the Charles is well along the path to rejuvenation. The benefits to the region in economic development, recreation, property values and the environment far outweigh the costs of the cleanup. It also marks the collaboration at all levels of government, and by businesses, universities, environmental organizations and citizens to achieve this remarkable progress.
"Restoring America's rivers, especially in urban areas, has been a priority for the Obama administration and a focus of our efforts to strengthen American communities. The Charles River is a great example of how the health of waters that run through our communities is closely tied to the health of the people and the economies in the area," said EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe, who attended the event. "We're proud to have worked with so many dedicated people and organizations that have over the years transformed the Charles from one of the dirtiest rivers in America to one of the cleanest, and we're thankful that this work has been recognized by the International RiverFoundation."
“The Charles winning the Riverprize was the thrill of a lifetime and it’s the result of across-the-board collaboration by many with CRWA, said Robert L. Zimmerman, Jr., CRWA’s Executive Director. “We are proud of what’s been accomplished and look forward to making the River even healthier, he said.
Stormwater runoff is now the largest source of pollution to the river, and efforts to “green” the watershed and clean up runoff before it gets into the river are now underway. Nevertheless, winning the International Riverprize shows that the little Charles River – like previous winners the Thames and the Danube – is recognized around the world as a truly great river.