MRWC, Boston University conducting survey to help guide Merrimack River cleanup action

Tuesday November 16, 2021

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. People who do not use the river recreationally are also encouraged to take the survey.

Results of the survey will be used to help MRWC better understand public concerns about the Merrimack. This information will help guide MRWC’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 Merrimack is a far cleaner river than it was 50 years ago, but it still faces pollution problems caused by combined sewer overflows (CSOs), stormwater and septage discharges, trash, and a host of other contaminants such as PFAS “forever chemicals” and microplastics. 

In the past half century, 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. 

The survey takes about 5 minutes to complete. It can be found online at

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

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