The Muddy Water Initiative launched the WATERGOAT trash net for a second season on August 1, at an action-packed event offering live music, ice cream from the Boston Police ice cream truck, and even live goats. Many volunteers came out to help clean the river banks by the Ispwich Street Bridge, as well as helped empty the WATERGOAT.
More than 70 pounds of trash was removed from the river and the surrounding area as part of the event, according to Muddy Water Initiative Volunteer Coordinator Danielle Ibrahim.
According to a press release from the Muddy Water Initiative, the WATERGOAT received a Boston Planning and Development Agency Boston Red Sox Fenway Park Demonstration Project Community Benefits grant for the second year in a row, and volunteers will clean out the net biweekly.
Caroline Reeves of the Muddy Water Initiative said that several groups are already lined up to help clean the river this year, including the Temple Israel Riverway Project for 20s & 30s, the Taiwanese American Professionals-Boston, Tzu Chi, and groups from MIT and Boston University, as well as plenty of resident volunteers.
“Following on last year’s roaring success with over 160 volunteers deployed and more than 700 pounds of trash removed from the river and its banks, The WATERGOAT Season II promises even more good fun cleaning up our threatened urban waterways,” the Muddy Water Initiative said in the release.
Many volunteers, community members, and elected officials came out to the event on Sunday, including Rep. Jon Santiago, Rep. Jay Livingstone and his family, Senator Will Brownsberger, and Emerald Necklace Conservancy President Karen Mauney-Brodek.
Preston Musoke, a volunteer who also helped out last year for his community service hours at school, said he enjoys helping clean the Muddy River and contribute to his community.
“It was pretty fun to be honest,” he said of the experience last year. “When we go to the other side of the river, we get to clean it. I feel like it’s better than just letting all the trash flow into the Charles River…” he said, adding that he likes being able to help make that happen.
Musoke said that last year, a bed frame and a bike were pulled out of the river, and seeing those removed really stood out to him.
“I think that the beauty of the WATERGOAT is that it allows people to see that they can make a difference in our environment with their own two hands, Reeves said. “Our volunteers come back two or three times, and that’s only in our first season because they love the experience so much.”
Reeves also said that next year, the goal is to clean the water itself.
“We are going to be deploying another boom across the Muddy River in the same area as the WATERGOAT,” she said. The boom will feature sacks filled with activated charcoal called biochar. “This is the material that’s used in wastewater treatment and in fishtanks,” she said.
“We are betting that the Muddy River, because it’s so stagnant, will react very well to this kind of filtration system and we think that we will see a significant reduction in phosphorus, nitrogen, hydrocarbon s, and E. coli.”
This activated charcoal will help to absorb toxins from the water without using chemicals, which Reeves said is an “environmentally positive method of water purification.”
The Muddy River Initiative is always looking for new volunteers to come help with the cleanups, and more information can be found at muddywaterinitiative.org.
“In 2019, 2.9 million people crossed the Muddy River to get to a home game for the Red Sox,” Reeves said. “I could almost guarantee you that three quarters of those people did not stop to think about the Muddy River and the importance of quality in our urban waterways.”
The next WATERGOAT cleanup will take place on August 15 from 10-11:30am across from 50 Charlesgate East. If interested, a waiver must be filled out.