The long-awaited WaterGoat trash net was finally launched into the Muddy River at a small, socially distanced event on August 5 at the corner of Ipswich St. and Charlesgate East that brought together members of the community, elected officials, and even three live goats to celebrate the launch.
Neither COVID-19 nor last Tuesday night’s storm could stop the device from being launched after being granted final permitting. Caroline Reeves of the Muddy Water Initiative was joined by Jackie Royce of the Muddy Water Initiative, as well as City Councilor Kenzie Bok, State Rep. Jon Santiago, Boston Conservation Commissioner Michael Parker, Department of Conservation and Recreation Commissioner Jim Montgomery, and several others who have played a role in the WaterGoat process to cut the ribbon and release the device into the water.
The WaterGoat is a shallow net that includes a rope that can be untied from one end, pulling the net across the edge of the river and trapping trash in it as it’s pulled. Once the trash is removed from the net by volunteers wearing goggles and gloves, it is scooped into trash bags and hauled away.
“We have been working towards this moment for a year and a half,” Reeves said. “This WaterGoat is a testament to what we can and have done together…We have brought this project to fruition, and I am so excited that we can say that we have done it in record time.”
The WaterGoat trash net is a pilot program in the Muddy River, but the Muddy Water Initiative hopes that other communities will launch their own WaterGoats to help keep water clean all over the city.
“This is something that we can do to make a difference,” Reeves said. “It is not an impossible problem, it is not an intractable disaster. We can each make a difference and we are making a difference here today.”
The organization said that between the “naysayers who said the water is too dirty to clean,” COVID-19, and other challenges that have slightly set the process back, they were still able to stick together and launch the WaterGoat.
Several “Goat Medals” (in the form of a small plastic goat-shaped trophy) were given out to those who had a hand in making the WaterGoat possible. Recipients included Commissioner Jim Montgomery from the DCR, Representative Jon Santiago, Councilor Kenzie Bok, Emerald Necklace Conservancy President Karen Mauney-Brodek, Emerald Necklace Board of Overseers Member John Iappini (“Father of the WaterGoat,”) neighbor George Lewis, Jr., and Boston Latin School Volunteer Preston Musoke.
Not in attendance were Senator Will Brownsberger and Representative Jay Livingstone, but Reeves said they are deserving of medals as well for their contribution to the WaterGoat process.
This week, trash will begin to be pulled from the water via the device, and different volunteer organizations will take part in the emptying. This week’s volunteers include 12 first from the Chica Project. Emptying will occur every week until the river freezes over, Reeves explained.
“Today for us is a day of celebration, it is a day of triumph and it is a day of accomplishment,” Reeves said. “This little river goes out to the Charles, the Charles goes out to the ocean, and we are making a difference on a great scale. We look forward to seeing this in more communities and making it work.”