Muddy Water Initiative Receives $12K for ‘WaterGoat’ to Clean up Debris in River

The Muddy River will very soon be free of golf balls, baseballs, shoes, and other items that have plagued the water for so long. The Muddy Water Initiative, a grassroots educational and advocacy group for stakeholders focused on climate resilience and storm water management, has received $12,000 from the state budget for the purchase of a “WaterGoat,” a trash collecting net that will help beautify the Muddy River.

Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) Commissioner Leo Roy approved the WaterGoat project in February of this year, and with the help of volunteers, the Muddy Water Initiative hopes to have the WaterGoat in operation by June of next year, according to a press release.

Several elected officials, including State Rep. Jon Santiago, State Rep. Jay Livingstone, and State Sen. Will Brownsberger have been instrumental in this process, Caroline Reeves of the Muddy Water Initiative said.

“The Muddy River is a hidden gem in our city we we must make every effort to ensure it is protected and pollution=free. That’s why I teamed up with the Muddy River Initiative to secure resources for a much needed clean up to improve our existing mitigation infrastructure,” Santiago said in the release.

Aside from this most recent funding, The Muddy Water Initiative has also received grants from Greater Boston Trout Unlimited and the New England Grassroots Environment Fund. “The WaterGoat System is the group’s first pilot project to deal with issues of trash and debris floating downstream,” the release states.

“I see the potential of the Muddy River as an important urban waterway,” Reeves told the Sun. “We are committed to making a difference.”

Reeves said that the WaterGoat is currently deployed in 92 places, all in the Southeast, but “this is the first northeast installment,” she said, “We do want them to be here to get it right.” She said that the Muddy Water Initiative is flying WaterGoat engineers up to Boston to be sure that it is installed properly.

Once installed, it will be run by a group of volunteers, who will be provided with safety gloves and goggles in case of contact with things like needles or other items that pose a health risk.

Aside from purchasing the WaterGoat itself, the money will be used to pay an engineer to prepare the proper permitting to make sure the WaterGoat will not harm the watershed area, as well as to hire a private garbage service for the first year year to haul away all the trash that will get pulled out of the river.

After the first year, the group will work with DCR and the city to see what can be worked out for trash removal.

For the first summer, the group plans to empty the WaterGoat at least every week, and then from there assess how often it will need to be emptied. In the winter, it will be removed from the river and stored in a DCR facility, Reeves said.

Reeves said that when the WaterGoat is unveiled next year, they hope to possibly have live goats down by the river as a fun play on the “WaterGoat” name and to get people excited about cleaning the river.

“We’re very excited because this is something that benefits everybody,” she said, “not just for down river but thinking about where else we can deploy this WaterGoat. Once the volunteers become involved and get excited, where do we stop? The future could be much cleaner.”

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