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EPA, CZM, CRWA, and Save the Harbor/Save the Bay Promote Clean Boating on the Charles River During the Fourth of July Celebration

Release Date: 07/03/2002
Contact Information: Andrew Spejewski, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1014 Bruce Berman, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay (617-242-1542) Kathy Baskin, Charles River Watershed Association (617-965-5975 x 228)

BOSTON -- The US Environmental Protection Agency, Massachusetts Coastal Zone Management (CZM), the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), and Save the Harbor/Save the Bay are coordinating a Clean Boating campaign to help spectators and boaters enjoy the 4th of July celebration along the Charles River in an environmentally sound manner. The groups will be distributing information on clean boating, offering boat sewage pump-out services, stepping up sampling of water quality during the week, and continuing to post information on current water quality.

"The Charles River is one of the jewels of Boston, and the Fourth of July is its time to shine," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator for EPA's New England Office. "We've made huge progress at cleaning up the Charles. Now we want people to enjoy the river, and enjoy it in a way that keeps it clean."

"It's going to be a great time on the Charles and it's going to be a clean time on the Charles, " said Bruce Berman,Baywatcher for Save the Harbor/Save the Bay. "With the help of our region's boaters, Save the Harbor/Save the bay is going to make sure of that."

"CRWA's pollution warning program provides boaters and other recreational users with information previously unavailable about health risks in the lower basin," said Kathy Baskin, project director for CRWA.

Boaters coming through the Charlestown Dam locks will be greeted by representatives from Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, who will be distributing information on clean boating, including CZM's 2002 Boater Guide to Tides and Pumpout Facilities, a CZM bilge sock for removing oil from bilge water, and directions on how to hail the Charles River Yacht Club's pumpout boat.

The Charles River Yacht Club pumpout boat, funded in part by a grant from the Division of Marine Fisheries Clean Vessel Act Program, will be operating as it does every day, on one-hour shifts throughout the event. Boaters can hail the pumpout boat on VHF channel 10 or can call 617-354-8681.

In anticipation of the 2002 Independence Day celebration on the Boston Esplanade and the usual increase in Charles River basin boats traffic, EPA will be analyzing Charles River basin water samples each day from Monday, July 1, through Friday, July 5. The EPA will be testing water samples collected by CRWA volunteers for fecal coliform, E. coli, and enterococcus bacteria to see what effect the influx of hundreds of boats has on the river's water quality

Bacterial results will be shared with the CRWA and MA CZM. CRWA will use its existing flagging system to let boaters and the public know that the waters are safe for boating or if there might be a risk to boaters. Colored flags posted at various boating centers on the river indicate water quality conditions for boaters in the Charles River Basin. Blue flags signal suitable boating conditions. Red flags signal potential health risks associated with elevated bacteria counts. Flags are flown on the Boston side of the river at Community Boating and on the Cambridge side at the M.I.T. Boathouse. For more information on CRWA flagging and water quality monitoring visit http://www.CRWA.org.

The Charles River has made significant progress in the last several years. Water quality met federal standards for boating 82 percent of the time last year, up from 39 percent in 1995, and met swimming standards 54 percent of the time, compared to 19 percent in 1995. During dry weather, the river met boating standards almost every day.