The Charles River in Boston has Something for Everyone

I've loved it all along and now there is even more reason to love my neighbor the Charles River. The Environmental Protection Agency just released its annual report card and the river once made popular by the band the Standells' song "Dirty Water” in 1966 has received a grade of "B".

The "B" grade is based on the amount of bacteria found in water samples collected at 10 locations from the Watertown Dam to Boston Harbor by the Charles River Watershed Association. Samples show that the Charles met the water quality standards for boating 82 percent of the time and for swimming 54 percent of the time. This is a huge improvement from 1995 when the EPA's Charles River Initiative began. The 1995 report gave the Charles a "D" with boating standards 39 percent of the time and swimming standards 19 percent of the time.

The Charles has come a long way and area residents and visitors are the beneficiaries. I love to go down to the Charles River on a warm summer evening; walking and people watching are a few of my favorite activities. There are so many things to do on the Charles there is something for everyone. Take some time out to visit the playgrounds and marshes. Learn to sail or rent a boat at Community Boating next to Mass General Hospital or just relax and have a picnic. The banks can also be a jogger's paradise.

If you want to help get involved in cleaning up the Charles River you can participate in the annual Earth Day clean ups or contact groups like the Charles River Conservancy and the Charles River Watershed Association for more information on how you can get involved. This weekend you can head out to the banks to watch the Charles River Cleanup Boat. The boat will head down the river with trash nets on May 12, as it has done for the past eight summers.

If you are looking to get the whole family involved head down the Hatch Memorial Shell on May 19, 2012. EarthFest is celebrating its 20th year of a free family-friendly festival that includes national and local music acts, environmentally-friendly products and local non-profit environmental organizations.

So love that not-so-dirty water and embrace our local gem the Charles River.