BU, Merrimack River Watershed Council Seek to Learn What Waterway Issues Worry Residents

A four-day kayak trip along the Merrimack River during August 2019, raised awareness of local and regional environmental issues. (Josiah Morrow photograph for WHAV News.)

The Boston University School of Public Health and Merrimack River Watershed Council are conducting a survey to help better understand public concerns over pollution in the Merrimack River.

The survey is intended to gauge the public’s views on potential public health risks involved in common recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, paddling and boating. Those who do not use the river recreationally are also encouraged to take the survey.

“The Merrimack is a far cleaner river than it was 50 years ago, but it still faces pollution problems caused by combined sewer overflows, stormwater and septage discharges, trash and a host of other contaminants such as PFAS ‘forever chemicals’ and microplastics,” The Council said in a statement.

In the past half century, the group noted, the Merrimack’s role in public health and recreation has dramatically changed. It is the primary drinking water source for nearly 600,000 people in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, and that number is expected to grow significantly in the coming decades. It has also become one of the most popular recreational rivers in Massachusetts, with thousands of boats, kayaks and other watercraft plying its waters seasonally, as well as tens of thousands of swimmers and anglers visiting its waterfront during the warmer seasons.

Those who complete the survey are entered in a raffle to win either a $25 Market Basket gift card or a free guided paddling trip on the Merrimack River.

Information will help guide the Watershed Council’s efforts to identify and support measures intended to protect and improve the health and cleanliness of the Merrimack River, and increase access for recreation and enjoyment by all.

The survey takes about five minutes to complete. It can be found online at merrimack.org/survey.

Comments are closed.