Water quality of Mystic River gets D-

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BOSTON, MA, May 24, 2011 -- Despite ongoing improvement efforts, Boston's Mystic River Watershed has received a grade of D- in a public report released earlier this month.

This is the fifth public reporting on the condition of the Mystic River since EPA and the Mystic River Watershed Association kicked off a collaborative effort to address water quality issues there in 2006.

"Although our grade is not where we would like it to be, we have solidified strong partnerships and defined a set of priorities to improve water quality and open space," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "The fact is, this sort of effort isn't always easy. But we remain firmly committed to working with our local partners to focus on improving water quality in this important urban watershed."

During the past two years (2008 and 2009) the grade for the Mystic River Watershed's water quality was C-. The grade is based on bacterial contamination. The latest grade was based on monitoring data over the past year showing that water quality met swimming standards only 28 percent of the time, while boating standards were met 70 percent of the time.

Despite the low grade this year, both EPA and MassDEP continue to issue a number of enforcement actions targeted at improving water quality in the Mystic Watershed. These enforcement efforts have resulted in the removal of over 12,000 gallons per day of sewage from storm drains there. Numerous additional illicit connections have been identified and are scheduled to be removed this year.

"This year's grade for the Mystic River Watershed, while disappointing is not a complete surprise," said EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association. "MyRWA and its many partners know that improving environmental conditions in the Mystic River has been and will remain a long uphill battle."

Earlier this spring, the Mystic River Watershed Initiative Steering Committee signed onto a mission and set of priorities that will guide its actions through 2012. The focus is on water quality as well as open space and public access. The Water Quality group intends to focus on reducing and eliminating sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs) in the watershed, providing stormwater technical assistance to municipalities, reducing nutrient inputs to the watershed, and better understanding and remediating legacy pollution in the Malden River area.

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