Earth Etude for Elul 3: Joining Fifty Years of Mystic River Watershed Environmental Advocacy

by Karen L. Grossman

In 2009 I was invited to get involved with the Mystic River Watershed Association, established in 1972 with a long, hard mission of environmental advocacy. As a board member for 10 years, I was able to admire how we partnered with other groups to champion environmental changes for MA, pursuing concerns with land use and transportation, involving the location of the Alewife Red Line Station, a highway building moratorium, the Amelia Earhart Dam completion,

and greenway connectivity into Boston.

While tabling at events, I spread the word that MyRWA counteracted pollution and development, had targeted Grace Chemical’s responsibility for the childhood leukemia cluster in Woburn, MA and other local Federal Superfund and toxic waste sites.

like at the Wynn Casino property, where after the cleanup, they created a living shoreline along the Mystic River.

Our advocacy, beginning in 2012, helped rebuild the Mystic Lakes Dam and beyond with fish ladders.

including recently at Horn Pond
In 2008, a bucket brigade aided the herring migration at Old Mystic Lakes Dam. (photo by David Messina)

Watching the fish on the fishcam, I rejoiced when the counts in the Mystic River herring migration tripled to 750,000!

My biggest challenge was obtaining a hundred prize donations for the Annual Herring Run and Paddle Races. I also participated in cleanups, sponsored “Reverse Tashlich” and “Plastover” with my temple, advocated for legislation, and attended MyRWA conferences and talks. Travelling to cities and towns in the watershed was a great opportunity for me to discuss climate change resilience.  The main Mystic River/Lakes now have an EPA Water Quality Grade of A-! I continue to support a vision focused on a better future.

Since I joined nearly 50 years of persistence, my part in environmental action continues to evolve along with MyRWA’s! As a result of my involvement over the years, I have embraced the conscientious attitude I need to alter my own bad habits by minimizing single use plastic and composting natural kitchen waste, doing my best to improve the environment. I hope you’ll think about how you can contribute to this movement, too!

Karen L. Grossman is a retired speech and language pathologist, a member of Temple Shir Tikvah, Winchester, MA’s Adult Social Committee, past Board member of the Mystic River Watershed Association, presently on the Outreach and Development Committees, and President of the Friends of Spy Pond Park, Arlington, MA.  She welcomes your comments to regarding the above ideas and refers you to: for more details of MyRWA’s history leading up to the 50th anniversary of the organization.

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