Some things that you need to know
about the Neponset River Watershed Association
Director: Christine Grady
is a river in eastern
Harbor. The headwaters of the river are at the Neponset Reservoir
in Foxborough, near the Gillette Stadium.For more than four decades, two
sections of the Neponset River had been placed in an underground pipe
("culverted") for a total length of more than 2,000 feet beneath the
parking lots at the old stadium. This had earned it the title of a dead
river and recent construction has brought much of it back to life. From
there, the river meanders generally northeast for approximately 29 miles
to its mouth atDorchesterBay between Quincy and the Dorchester section
of Boston, near the painted gas tank. The NeponsetRiver forms the
southern boundary of the city of Boston, through the neighborhoods of
Readville, Hyde Park, Mattapan and Dorchester, with the northern border
of the city of Quincy. The river is fed by a drainage basin or watershed
of approximately 130 square miles. The Neponset River watershed includes
numerous aquifers, wetlands, streams and surrounding upland areas.
Altogether some 250,000 people live within the watershed.
Before early colonization,
Native Americans would travel down the river to trade fur skins on
with Europeans. Soon afterwards the
falling waters of the Neponset provided the energy for the country's
first water-powered grist mill, gunpowder mill, paper mill and the
Revere Copper Company, among others. The upper stretch of the
is steeply sloped while dropping about 228 feet over its first 12 miles
and so the earliest years of the Industrial Revolution
truly brought the Neponset to prominence. In 1635, Israel Stoughton
built the first dam on the Neponset (only the second dam in entire
for his grist mill.
It was the first of three mills for flour, gun powder and paper making.
In 1640 shipbuilding began at Gulliver's
and in 1673 John Trescott built a lumber mill on the river. At the
second Milton Landing at Lower Mills ship building and commercial
shipping were to become the major river industries at the estuary.
and its watershed are increasingly being protected and opened up as a
recreational destination for the benefit of local residents. Several
recommendations of the 1966 Lower Neponset River Reservation Master Plan
have been implemented, including the reclamation of the former Hallet Street
landfill and the old Neponset Drive-In to provide the 66-acre Pope John
Paul II Park, which opened to the public in 2001. At Squantum Point in
phase one of
25 acres of a 50-acre former U.S. Navy Airfield, was developed as
waterfront parkland with assistance from National Grid plc and dedicated
in the spring of 2001. Also 2.4 miles of the Lower Neponset River Trail
opened in 2003 with a short Greenway bike path.
NepRWA, along with the
state Riverways Program and many others, has been trying for years to
restore the historic migratory fish “runs” on the Neponset River,
which for millennia brought ocean fish like shad and herring dozens of
miles upstream to lay their eggs. These fish are now blocked from
reaching the fresh water portion of the river by two dams in
A couple of years ago, NepRWA called together a
Citizens Advisory Committee on the Lower Neponset
(CAC), made up of neighborhood and civic associations as well as
environmental groups, condo associations, yacht clubs and the like. Much
to our surprise, the CAC reached a unanimous agreement in 2009, which
recommended cleanup of the toxic sediments behind the two dams, removal
of the more upstream Tileston & Hollingsworth (T&H) Dam in Hyde Park and
Milton, and partial removal of the Baker Dam in
Lower Mills along with construction of a nature-like fishway suitable
for shad and herring. As of this date only a few technical issues remain
as roadblocks. If and when dam removal occurs fishing opportunities
would be greatly expanded, boating which is currently blocked by the
dams would be safer and considerably more enjoyable, and the safety of
those recreating along the banks of the river would be enhanced.
Water quality has improved tremendously along the
River. In fact, the river
and its tributaries are at their cleanest in 200 years.
Nevertheless, leaking sewers and contaminated stormwater runoff continue
to plague local streams, ponds, lakes and the river, itself. Water
quality is connected with water quantity, and NepRWA is working to
reduce local communities’ water use to ensure sufficient water in local
waterways and aquifers in order to maintain high-quality water quality
and wildlife habitat even during the heavy water use of summer. As more
subdivisions, office parks and roads are built each year, it is
important to monitor development to ensure that growth is channeled to
appropriate locations that critical open spaces are preserved and public
access maintained, and that water is sustainably used and treated.
NepRWA has worked to get key land parcels acquired as conservation land
and to improve public access to the river. NepRWA trains CWMN Volunteers
to monitor water quality around the Neponset River Watershed, in
streams, ponds, lakes and the River. CWMN data help NepRWA to pin-point
water quality problem areas for follow-up. Volunteers are being sought
to participate in six water sampling sessions, from April through
October. Each volunteer is assigned a specific sampling site.
River cleanup, August
Details to be announced!
Details to be announced!
|The Neponset River in Walpole as it
winds away from Plimpton Street
|The Neponset River at Lower Mills
by the former Baker Chocolate factory
Submitted by Conservation Chair Bill Luther