Hotspot Challenge: Can You Help?

Since our volunteer-based water quality program was founded in the early 1990’s, our volunteers have amassed more than 30,000 individual water quality measurements.

Along the way many of these measurements have pointed to water quality problem areas—we call them water pollution hotspots—that have since been cleaned. The result is ponds and waterways that are healthier for humans and wildlife alike.

Map of Neponset Watershed water pollution hotspots. Click image to zoom in.

Map of Neponset Watershed water pollution hotspots. Click image to zoom in.

But as we’ve been reviewing some of that data in recent months, we’ve been reminded about just how many of these “hotspots” continue to be unsolved mysteries that we haven’t had the resources to follow up on properly.

These problem areas can be found in almost every one of our towns and they vary from obvious sewer leaks to vague anecdotal reports.  In many cases, solving these problems requires sending our staff out into the field to wade the stream, make observations, and take samples back to the lab so that we can pinpoint a source. In others, it’s a matter of working with local officials to try to find a problem inside a municipally owned drainage system.

Over the years, a lack of available staff time and funding for laboratory costs has left many of these hotspots languishing and unresolved.  However, as municipalities gear up to comply with new EPA requirements to intensively monitor their storm drains over the next several years, it’s a good time to tackle these remaining hotspots.

With this in mind, we’ve set a goal to track down the causes of a majority of our known hotspots over the next 18 months. Doing this will help leverage the investment our municipalities are about to make in monitoring their stormdrain systems, by helping them target their efforts to the right locations.

This activity won’t be cheap. It will require re-allocating a significant chunk of our Environmental Engineer’s time away from existing projects, as well as additional costs for interns, field equipment and laboratory analysis, an estimated $30,000 in all and not something that can be readily funded through available grants.

To launch our new Pollution Hotspot Program, three generous families have pledged to increase their existing giving by a total of $10,000, but only if we can raise the remaining $20,000 through new or increased gifts from local businesses and individuals by the end of 2015.

Make the most of this challenge grant opportunity with your own year-end contribution and by spreading the word to friends and colleagues in your community!

For more information, to donate, to tell us about a hotspot you’ve seen, or to help us spread the word, visit or contact Ian Cooke at 781-575-0354 or


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