Supriya Ambwani, MLA I 2022

Summer 2020

Organization: Lowell Waterways Vitality Initiative

Sponsor: Lawrence and Marla Curtis Fund for Public Service

Waterways team mafia shot, Lower Locks, Lowell. Photographer: Jay Linnehan

“Another site visit!

Over a month after my last visit to Lowell, I was able to return to see the waterways, meet the team, and welcome our new high school interns. All of this was, of course, socially distanced with masks.

During the site visit, JoAnn Marcos from the National Park Service took us on a walking tour of Lowell’s waterways and the Boott Cotton Mills Museum. She taught me a lot about Lowell’s history and present, focusing on both socioeconomic and environmental issues. She’s a treasure trove of knowledge.

The last few weeks have been busy. Malika Leiper and I did more research on Lowell’s water quality, which is, unfortunately, not great for a city built around water. We reached out to various stakeholders, studied reports, and identified some of the major causes of water pollution in Lowell. The city is aware of these problems and is working very hard to fix it. The National Park Service’s branch in Lowell, also called the Lowell National Historic Park (LNHP), is also deeply invested in making Lowell’s waterways safe and inviting for everyone.

A major contributor to Lowell’s water pollution is, like in many places around the United States, Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs). I mapped Lowell’s active CSO points and had a chance to sketch out some basic landscape interventions to reduce their intensity. We also looked at wastewater treatment plants, CSOs, and communities along the entire Merrimack Watershed, reiterating the fact that water quality cannot be looked at in isolation.

There needs to be greater investment in environmental health, which is strongly tied to public health. This becomes more urgent when we consider that we, quite literally, drink from the same water bodies into which we excrete.”

Eastern Canal and Merrimack Wastershed near Massachusetts Mills.
“Hydro” statue by Nancy Selvage at the Utopian Park, Hamilton Canal Innovation District.
Jay describing his superpower to Jon, Arlene, and Irene at the Lower Locks
JoAnn Marcos teaching us about the history of Lowell’s canals, Lower Locks.