See the History, and Possible Future of the Watertown Dam and the Charles River

Charlie BreitroseThe Watertown Dam near Watertown Square slows the flow of the Charles River. A group is advocating removing the dam. The Charles River Watershed Association recently produced a history of the Charles River, including a look at the Watertown Dam, called A River Interrupted. The group is advocating for the removal of the dam near Watertown Square as a way to return the Charles to its natural state. One reason is to help migrating restore the numbers of migrating species in the river that struggle to get upstream due to the dam and other obstacles.

Watertown Group Joining Other Communities for Webinar Focusing on Green New Deal

The following announcement was provided by Watertown Facing Climate Change:

The Watertown Facing Climate Change committee is working with other local communities to support state legislation. You can become more informed and take collective action by joining us on the “Bring the Green New Deal Home Actionar.” (An actionar is like a webinar but with action). You can participate on either days: 

Monday, Jan. 17 at 7 p.m., or

Tuesday, Jan.

LETTER: Watertown Group Concerned About Loss of Trees on Private Properties

Dear fellow Watertown citizens:

The recent removal of multiple mature trees on Olcott Street raises significant issues about the proper balance of public and private interests here in Watertown. While a private landowner has a right to dispose of trees as they see fit, Watertown must recognize that the benefits of mature trees extend beyond the lot they sit on and are an asset to the community as a whole. Watertown is expending considerable resources to combat climate change and improve the community’s quality of life. Major investments have been made in street trees and in enhanced storm drainage systems designed to protect the city from climate-related extreme storms. Yet these efforts cannot succeed if they are at odds with actions on private land where 80 percent of the city’s tree canopy sits. The rights of private landowners are fundamental to our system.

Group Advocating for Removal of Watertown Dam Hosting Virtual Meeting

Charlie BreitroseThe Watertown Dam near Watertown Square slows the flow of the Charles River. A group is advocating removing the dam. The following announcement was provided by the Charles River Watershed Association:

The Dam Removal Movement Why Watertown Dam Should Be Next Virtual Event Monday, Dec. 6, 2021, at 7 p.m.

Across Massachusetts, there is a growing movement to remove aging, defunct mill dams and restore free-flowing, climate-resilient rivers. There are numerous benefits and considerations to dam removal, including reinstating migratory fish passage, restoring the ecosystem, and protecting downstream communities from catastrophic flooding.

LETTER: East End Resident Urges Alternatives to New Gas Lines

Over the last half year or so, my East End neighborhood has been torn up by National Grid in an epic quest to replace our 100-year-old leaky gas lines. The local contractors have been doing a great job and overall I don’t have any immediate complaints about their work. However, I wonder if all this upheaval is a huge waste? Our old gas lines have been in the ground for 100 years, and are very leaky. The methane that leaks from these lines is a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change and I definitely agree that these leaks need to stop.

New Program Seeks to Make Watertown More Green, Promote Planting of Street Trees

City of PhiladelphiaTree trenches will allow for improved dispersion of excess storm water. The Town of Watertown plans to install 15 tree trenches around the community. By James Briand, Trees for Watertown

A drive around Watertown quickly reveals that green assets — shade, permeable surfaces, and advanced drainage systems — are unevenly distributed. While some areas have abundant, mature shade trees and street-side planting strips overflowing with flowers, other neighborhoods are treeless, and non-permeable asphalt surfaces define the streets. This is not just a matter of beauty.

LETTER: Pending Legislation Would Help Keep Watertown Green and Livable

Elizabeth ShawThis mature Watertown maple tree straddling a property line illustrates the issue addressed by House Bill 1849. By James Briand, Trees for Watertown

Watertown residents already feel the impact of climate change in warmer average temperature and stronger storms. Managing such change in the midst of rapid development requires an up to date and flexible regulatory framework. Three pending pieces of Massachusetts state legislation aim to address that need, by preserving mature trees that mitigate the impact of climate change today and by adding to the tree canopy to prepare Massachusetts for the future. The first bill, An Act To Update the Shade Tree Law (House Bill 2195), will update a 19th century law designed to protect trees bordering public roadways. Progressive in its day, the legislation became less effective as fines and obligations failed to keep pace with inflation and changing lifestyles.