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MRWC’s actions during COVID-19 outbreak

During this unprecedented outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus), MRWC wants to share the steps we are taking as we respond to this evolving situation. First and foremost, our hearts go out to all those directly impacted by the health and financial strain of this pandemic.

Our number one priority is the health and safety of our entire community, which includes staff, board members, and volunteers. As we work to protect the wellbeing and stability of our community, we have taken steps to ensure that everyone remains safe.

Below we outline our commitment to public safety, community solidarity, and advocacy during this time.

Maintaining public alerts

In the midst this historic crisis, the Merrimack River needs a voice more than ever. We will continue keep the public up to date on issues involving the health of the river and its impact on the local community.

  • In March, a sewer line broke near the pump station at 1 Wotton St. in Chelmsford, and was pumping up to 1,000 gallons/minute into Deep Brook, which then flows into the Merrimack. MRWC closely monitored the situation and provided updates through our Facebook page.
  • We will continue to post public alerts when combined sewage overflows occur. These events typically happen during heavy rainstorms. Check our Facebook page.
  • The CDC continues to study whether COVID-19 can be transmitted through sewage. We will watch for updates from the CDC and will post them publicly.

Monitoring water quality

Safe Drinking Water is an essential service. As the Merrimack River Watershed provides drinking water to over 600,000 people, we maintain a laser focus on our vision of a clean, healthy river.

  • We are preparing to relaunch our water testing program in the summer. We will focus our efforts on the impact of combined sewage overflows. When appropriate, we will establish a volunteer sample collection network.

Changes in our programs, office hours

MRWC has taken the following steps towards physical distancing:

  • Postponed our Annual Meeting and Earth Day concert (originally scheduled for April 23)
  • Postponed scheduling River Cleanups and Educational Programs until we are cleared by public health officials
  • Started a transition to a video-based long-distance training for water-testing volunteers. We are also working with our testing lab to coordinate a safe process for sample testing.
  • The MRWC office is temporarily closed. Staff are working from home, but are accessible by phone and by email. Contact
  • Community Solidarity. MRWC has joined a collective of local non-profits pivoting towards providing essential services during this crisis. We are in the early stages of learning how we can use our resources to support communities of the watershed at large. We will update you as the situation develops. **For Lawrence residents: general information as it impacts Lawrence and the surrounding community, check the We Are Lawrence (WAL) website often-
  • Our bird refuge is open.Our Andover refuge is located in the Den Rock Park complex. We ask that you practice social distancing when encountering other visitors.


We look to you, our supporters, to keep us going during this financial tightening- please consider a donation to our bridge fund (link listed below), which will help us fund our support critical programs during the challenging financial road ahead.


Advocacy is more important now than ever. In collaboration with our partners, we are teasing out both the urgency of addressing immediate needs alongside the push for longer term structural change.  We’ll start sharing more of these action opportunities in the days and months to come.

Take action

Help pass H3976 Sewage Notification bill.  It is in the Massachusetts Ways and Means Committee right now and we want it to be top of mind once the legislature is back in session and the budget is passed; please email the chairs, Aaron Michlewitz and Denise Garlick) and urge them to approve the bill so that it can go to the floor for a vote, as soon as the legislature is back in session. We would hate to see another session end without this bill passing.

Stay Connected:

We especially encourage you to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram to keep up with the latest news, resources and comments.

Contribute to our Bridge Fund:

This fund will help MRWC bridge this challenging economic moment and continue to fight for a clean, healthy river for the communities /of the Merrimack Watershed.  Any amount you can donate is much appreciated!