Crew members of Hawaii’s voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa discovered another story of hope during the Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage’s current New England sail: the amazing restoration and beautification of Boston’s Charles River, a result of the community coming together.
Two decades ago, Boston Harbor was known as the “dirtiest harbor in America.” This was partly because for over 100 years, the daily waste from Boston and its surrounding communities received limited treatment before it was disposed into the harbor. The Charles River watershed includes 23 cities, making it the most densely populated watershed in all of New England, and empties directly into Boston Harbor.
These days, people view Charles River as a “Great American Jewel.” The Boston Harbor Project, a combined effort from engaged community members, government entities like the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) and non-profits such as the Charles River Watershed Association (CRWA), worked tirelessly to restore one of Boston’s precious natural resources. As a result, the Boston Harbor cleanup is widely recognized as one of the nation’s greatest environmental achievements.
MWRA invested $3.8 billion in the treatment facilities at Deer Island, a part of Boston Harbor Islands State and National Park. The organization is also spending $850 million on combined sewer overflow (CSO) projects to protect beaches, shell fishing beds and other sensitive waters from overflows due to heavy rains.
CRWA is one of the country’s oldest watershed associations, focused on advocacy for Charles River and other watersheds through a combination of scientific data, long-term vision and solutions, and an emphasis on revitalizing and expanding public parks and recreation spaces. In September 2011, CRWA on behalf of the Charles River received the Thiess International Riverprize, the world’s most prestigious environmental award from the International River Foundation (IRF) in Brisbane, Australia. The Thiess International Riverprize recognizes individuals and organizations who have developed and implemented outstanding, visionary and sustainable programs in river management.
“What happens on land affects the health of our waters, the blue lungs of this Island Earth,”said Nainoa Thompson, president of the Polynesian Voyaging Society. “The Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage seeks stories of hope and success, exploring ways others have worked to restore and revitalize culture, environment, and education. Like the Charles River Watershed, Hawaii’s watersheds are densely populated, multi-use, and priceless resources for this and all generations. Through stories like the amazing Boston Harbor cleanup project, we know that restoring the health of our watersheds is possible within a lifetime,” Thompson added.
Hōkūleʻa continues her journey on the US East Coast seeking out more stories of hope. She recently left Newport, Rhode Island late Sunday night and is scheduled to dock in New York’s Oyster Bay today.
Help fund the Voyage as we sail the East Coast
Hōkūle‘a’s visit to the eastern United States is a historic milestone in her 40 years of voyaging.
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