Wicked Awesome Remediation
Boston recently enjoyed a day more than 50 years in the making, as the long-suffering Charles River was re-opened for recreational swimming. Infamous for its heavy pollution, the river had become the butt of many a joke, and deservedly so. It sounds like jest to say that anyone who fell in the river was advised to go to the hospital for a tetanus shot, but that was exactly the case. After receiving a “D” grade for water quality by the U.S. EPA in 1995, the Charles began a steady road to recovery that resulted in a “B+” in 2011. And this summer, after half a century, it was once again deemed safe for swimmers — and swim they did.
The Charles was revived with a multifaceted game plan to address the root causes of the pollution. Some efforts, like eliminating combined sewer overflows (CSOs) and stormwater runoff, as well as aggressively monitoring water quality, are familiar and expected. Others, such as computer modeling and “smart sewering,” indicate a more advanced approach. As a practical measure, a dam was also built to prevent salt water that derives from road de-icing, wastewater effluent, and/or faulty septic systems from entering the basin.
There was one method, however, that was highly unusual.
Image credit: "Charles River, Boston – from Marriott Copley Place," © 2010 Jeffrey, used under a Creative Commons Attribution license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en