The Muddy River Dredging Project: Protecting Our Past and Our Future


Much of the surrounding densely-populated area -- according to the U. S. Census in 2000, is defined as an "environmental justice" area. 
The Muddy River Restoration Project includes flood control, environmental improvements and historic preservation. These three elements are inextricably linked. 

The environmental improvements include replanting the shoreline to prevent repeated erosion. A comprehensive plan for reducing street runoff (regular street sweeping and catch basin cleaning) will protect the federal investment. The Proponents (Boston and Brookline), in partnership with the Commonwealth, are committed to a long-term program to lengthen the life of this project.

A Maintenance and Management Oversight Committee is charged with jointly managing the long-term effectiveness of this project.

The Museum of Fine Arts, home to a world-class collection of art, has been flooded. Completion of the Muddy River Project will help to protect these works of art for future generations, and stimulate current proposals for Museum expansion. Other institutions along the Emerald Necklace that have been damaged include Northeastern University, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Simmons College, and Wentworth Institute of Technology. 

A number of other famous institutions and hospitals enthusiastically endorse this project.


1. Historic map shows Emerald Necklace from Franklin Park to Charles River. Olmsted's intent was to provide flood control to a tidal estuary. Development in the last century has eliminated much of the natural ground surface which would absorb water.

2. Fenway - note Phragmites, an invasive form of reed that thrives along the shoreline. The Muddy River Project area drains 67 square miles of Boston and Brookline.

3. Fenway - note Phragmites, the 
brownish reed that spreads from the 
shore into the channel.

4. World-renowned institutions depend on a clear waterway.


5. Landmark Center area which would be "daylighted" to increase water capacity. Culverts at Brookline Ave. would be replaced.

6. World-renowned institutions depend 
on a clear waterway.

7. Map of the entire Emerald Necklace

8. An example of Phragmites at the Aggasiz Bridge in the Fenway.

9. Fenway - 2/3 of the channel is constricted by Phragmites

10. Riverway- note the waterway constricted by Phragmites (see #11) and the proximity of the MBTA Riverside line, which suffered $50 million in damage during the last flood.

11. Closeup of the constricted waterway in the Riverway.

12. In Olmsted Park, sediment from the Village Brook drainage system accumulates with each severe storm, which reduces the effectiveness of the system.

13. Graffiti is a sign of criminal activity. Phramites provides a screen where illicit activities are common.

14. More graffiti

15. Shoreline erosion will be addressed by replanting with historically-appropriate shrubs. This 
will stabilize the bank edge to 
minimize further erosion and lengthen 
the effective life of the Muddy River 
Project.

16. The cumulative impact of undersized culverts and waterways constricted by Phragmites are magnified upstream at Olmsted Park. 

17. Olmsted Park flooding.

18. Brookline Ave. near Longwood 
Medical Area is flooded.

19. Sediment at the Village Brook outfall in Leverett Pond indicates the need for dredging to increase flood control. The water depth between the Brookline shore and the unwanted "island" is less than a foot; geese walk, rather than swim to this island.


20. Phragmites, seen from the Boylston Bridge, choke the channel.
Website created by Hugh Mattison Last Updated: 12/20/2007