Environmental Issues

Historical postcard depiction of Walter Baker Chocolate factory buildings at Lower Mills, on Neponset River. Collection: Doug Wynn.

Inhabited by people for thousands of years, and industrialized for 375 years, it’s not a surprise that Neponset River Watershed has its share of environmental issues, including:

Climate Change

Climate change affects Neponset land, water, people and wildlife, changing what we view as “normal.” Species adapt to these changes, migrate elsewhere, or deal with the consequences. We can reduce our contribution to climate change as well as help natural communities to adapt.


Old dams on the river and its tributaries degrade water quality and aquatic environments, block fish movement, hinder human recreation, and can threaten public health.


  • Food Advisory — If you fish in freshwater and eat your catch, it’s important to keep up to date on the Freshwater Fish Consumption Advisory List, published by the MA Department of Health. Decide whether to eat your catch based on the pollutants in the fish.
  • Fish Kills — The sight of dead and dying fish along the shores of a favorite lake or pond can be distressing and trigger concerns about pollution. However, the vast majority of fish kills reported are natural events. Read more…

Exotic, Invasive Species

Plant, animal, insect, and fungi species can be categorized as “native,” “exotic,” a hybrid of the two, “naturalized,” or “invasive.” As such, they have different effects on the surrounding environment.

Legacy Toxins

For example, PCB-laced soil and groundwater from a former industrial property that leaches toxins into the river.

Low Water Levels

Drought affect our river, its tributaries, our groundwater, ponds, lakes and wetlands, especially during the summer.

Sewage Contamination

This may happen when a building’s stream of wastewater is connected to the wrong piping system, and thus flows into the river as opposed to a water treatment facility).

Stormwater Runoff

This is the rain water or snow melt that picks up pollution from hard, impervious surfaces, such as roads, parking lots and driveways, and washes into our waterways, usually via storm drains.

Threats to Aquatic Habitat

Pollutants; low water levels; direct removal of habitat; disturbance of vegetation and soil at the water’s edge; exotic, invasive species; acid precipitation; obstructions (dams); and degradation of fish spawning habitat all impact the watershed.

Our solutions:

  • Strengthening policy to protect the natural resources of the watershed
  • Commenting on development proposals to permit better water recharge for our river and underground water supplies
  • Boosting towns’ water-efficiency through school programs
  • Offering rebates for water-efficient appliances
  • Managing a water-quality monitoring program (CWMN)
  • Planning for the construction of stormwater treatment structures
  • Guiding abutters’ yard maintenance around a pond
  • Releasing biocontrol insects into wetlands to control exotic, invasive plants

For more information, contact NepRWA Executive Director, Ian Cooke at cooke@neponset.org or 781-575-0354 x305