A new study commissioned by the Charles River Conservancy confirms its water is not so dirty after all, and could even support a permanent swimming hole open during the summer months.
Some swimmers have had the opportunity to take a dip in the Charles over the past few summers during sponsored “City Splash events,” but the design firm Stantec said improving conditions in the river could be a great opportunity for the city to revamp its waterfront in a more permanent fashion.
Researchers identified the New Charles River Basin -- a stretch of water between the Museum of Science and Zakim Bridge -- as an ideal location for a permanent swimming structure, specifically singling out North Point Park, which already has a dock that could be furthered developed for such a purpose.
“Because of its flexible lawn spaces, direct access to the river, nearby connections to the MBTA, proximity to several Hubway bike rental stations, and proximity to other amenities and new development, North Point Park could be an ideal location for a permanent swimming area on the Charles,” the report reads.
The researchers note that the river’s quality had improved from a “D” grade in 1995 to an “A-” in 2013, when the city held its first public swim in the waterway in more than 50 years. As the quality continues to improve, the “lower Charles River is considered swimmable many days of the year,” according to the report.
Clean as the water may be, the report also takes note of a few potential hazards that would need to be mitigated in such a project – swimmers would need to be kept away from hazardous sediments at the bottom of the river, possibly requiring a water depth of about nine to 15-feet deep.
Managers of the swimming site might also have to close the facility during events like E. coli outbreaks or after storms, the report notes.
State House News service contributed to this report.