Monday, July 12, 2021

Environment Massachusetts gets it wrong

Once again, Environment Massachusetts released a misleading "report card" which claims that "pathogens pose risk" to human health at more than 1/2 of Massachusetts beaches, making them "potentially unsafe for swimming".

Here is our response. 

"Though it makes a good headline, it is hyperbolic to suggest that swimming on 264 out of 457 beaches in Massachusetts poses a threat to human health because they may have failed one water quality test in 2020 after a summer rain.

It is misleading to release a report which includes beaches like M Street Beach in South Boston, which has failed just one test in five years alongside beaches like King's Beach in Lynn and Swampscott or Tenean Beach in Dorchester that were unsafe for swimming more than one out of every five days in 2020.

By issuing an overly simplistic "Pass-Fail" report card, Environment America fails to make important distinctions that should drive critical investments in clean water where we need it the most. It also obscures the fact that this is an environmental justice issue, as our most diverse communities of color and need often have the poorest water quality on their beaches.

In his very first order in the Boston Harbor Case, Judge A. David Mazzone said, "The law secures to the people the right to clean water". He frequently called for a harbor that is safe for fishing and boating and beaches that are safe for swimming "damn near every day".

Since 1986, Save the Harbor/Save the Bay has helped lead the effort that transformed Boston Harbor from a national disgrace into a regional asset and helped make the South Boston Beaches the cleanest urban beaches in the nation. Though we still have more work to do on some area beaches, we are close to achieving Judge Mazzone's goal.

Save the Harbor/Save the Bay has always believed in the power of clean water to strengthen communities, bring diverse people together and improve our quality of life. We look forward to working with our allies in the Baker/Polito Administration, the Legislature, the Metropolitan Beaches Commission, the region's waterfront neighborhoods and beachfront communities, and well-intentioned groups like Environment Massachusetts to finish the job."

Here's a copy of Save the Harbor/Save the Bay's 2021 Metropolitan Beaches Water Quality Report Card which Save the Harbor/Save the Bay released on July 4.

For more information on when and where it is safe to swim on Boston Harbor region's metropolitan beaches, visit

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