Malden’s population was 59,450 at the 2010 census. It is bordered by Melrose on the north, Stoneham on the northwest, Medford on the west, Everett on the south, Revere on the east, and Saugus on the northeast. The city has a total area of 5.1 square miles. It is bordered on the north by the cliffs of Middlesex Fells and is drained by the Malden River. In 2009 Malden was ranked as the “Best Place to Raise Your Kids” in Massachusetts by Bloomberg Businessweek Magazine.
Malden, a hilly woodland area, was settled by Puritans on land purchased in 1629 from the Pennacook tribe. The area was originally called the “Mistick Side” and was a part of the common lands of Charlestown. A few hardy souls had lived in the area that is now Everett since 1631. Land division to individuals began in 1634. All of the territory eight miles north of the river was formally granted to Charlestown in 1638. In 1640, a grist mill was built by the pond in Malden Square on Three Mile (later Spy Pond) Brook. By 1643, rude dwellings were scattered along the Mystic. The early Puritans came up by boat on the Malden River to a landing place and burying ground at Sandy Beach. Alternate routes were crossing the Mystic at Penny Ferry or at Cradock’s Bridge and then overland to the new settlement.
Malden was incorporated as a separate town, “Mauldon,” in 1649 by its 40 inhabitants in order to establish and maintain church privileges on their side of the river since it was a long journey to Charlestown. The name Malden was selected by Joseph Hills, an early settler and landholder, and was named after Maldon, England. The first code of enacted laws printed in New England was compiled here by Joseph Hills in 1648. The early residents were farmers, craftsmen, woodsmen, and builders. They developed the clay pits and made bricks and furnished Boston and Charlestown with wood and timber. Many including those who were non-Puritans fished for plentiful cod and gathered furs.
In 1726, the area now known as Wellington and Edgeworth that had still been part of Charlestown were set off to Malden. The population was now 600. By 1727, other sections to the north were set off to Reading, Melrose, and Stoneham and another added to Medford in 1817. Malden, which originally included what are now the adjacent cities of Melrose (until 1850) and Everett (until 1870), was incorporated as a city in 1882.
In 1727, all of New England had a major earthquake that scared many. In 1735 and 1736, diphtheria killed many Malden residents.
Many of the neighborhoods in Malden take their name and identity from the Square they are centered around. Malden’s squares include Malden Square (formerly Converse Square, and the location of Downtown Malden), Oak Grove Square (at Oak Grove T station), Bellrock Square (at the intersections of Cross, Main and Medford Streets.), Judson Square (near Ferryway School), former Suffolk Square (at Cross and Bryant Streets), Maplewood Square (at Lebanon, Maplewood and Salem Streets) and Linden Square. Some of the neighborhoods in Malden include Faulkner (location of the former Suffolk Square) West End, Edgeworth, Linden, Ferryway, Forestdale, Maplewood, Bellrock, and Belmont Hill.
The Edgeworth neighborhood is the southwest section of the city. The city’s football stadium, MacDonald Stadium is in Edgeworth. The Converse Rubber Factory and offices once operated in Edgeworth at the bottom of Pearl Street. This is the original home of the Converse “All-Star” Basketball Sneakers. Bellrock is the southwest section of the city, bordered by Main Street on the east, Charles Street on the north, the Malden River on the west, and the Everett line on the south. Linden is the southeast section of the city, generally everything east of Broadway/Route 99. A large portion of this neighborhood was once a marshy area up until the late 19th century. The Linden Land Company sold off house lots on land that was created by filling in the marsh around the Hunting Field area.
By 1800, Malden had begun to lose its rural character as its people turned to manufacturing. William Barrett established a silk-dying business in 1804 that lasted until 1882; the building stood until 1949 when it was razed for a parking lot. Above the valley and beyond it from 1806 to 1838 was a rolling and splitting nail works, the first of its kind to cut and head nails on one operation. Last making began in 1812 and tin ware in 1823. Other businesses included Robinson Brothers & Company manufacturers of soap, the Madden & Melrose Gas Light Company, Gould’s Herb Factory, and several blacksmith shops.
In 1845, the Boston and Maine Railroad brought greater prosperity to Malden. The first horse street railway arrived in 1858 and went to Haymarket Square in Boston, followed by trolley service to Sullivan Square in 1901. Electricity came in 1886. By 1873, Malden had 287 manufacturing firms.
In 1898, Malden’s population was 32,051 and the city was very prosperous. Its firms manufactured shoe lasts, coal tar, and linen fire hose, among many other products. The population was up to 49,103 by 1922 and a reached a height of over 60,000. By the 1950s, Malden had become a victim of urban blight as families moved out into smaller towns. Starting in 1958, a well organized urban renewal plan contributed to its revival, and by the early 1960s much new construction had paved the way for its rebirth. In 1970, its population was 56,127.
The Malden River
From the Mystic River, just above the Earhart dam, we turn left into the Malden River. We pass under the Wood’s Memorial bridge (Route 16) that is scheduled soon for major reconstruction including adding bike lanes to it and a bike path underneath it along the river.
The Malden River is a 2.3-mile-long fresh water river that has had a fairly constant, non-tidal depth since the construction of the Earhart dam. It is roughly 675 feet wide at its widest point and is very narrow at its smallest point. Its banks are largely occupied by industrial business, and the river is scarcely used or even mentioned. Its water quality is worse than most local waters, including the Mystic River.
The Malden River begins in Long Pond in Melrose and Spot Pond in Stoneham and flows through Three Mile Brook (Spot Pond Brook) mostly underground through Malden to become the Malden River before it joins the Mystic River just above the Earhart Dam.
The Malden River was once a brackish river with salt marshes lining its banks. At its lower end, the river is now relatively straight and channelized. Its historic configuration was much different. It curved much deeper into what is now the River’s Edge parking lot. Especially to the east, it had a number of lengthy inlets. Near the Mystic River, it was much wider, with an oxbow on the Everett side. Beginning in the 1850s, the present channel was dredged so coal barges could go upstream, fhe oxbow was filled in, and a marsh was created that is now filled in by River’s Edge.
Little Creek is on the left at the north end of River’s Edge. It divides Medford and Malden. There is a little piece of Everett on this side of the river just before River’s Edge and a little piece of Medford on the other side since town boundary lines were set up when the river curved in this area.
The river was also originally connected to Ell Pond and was fed by Spot Pond Brook, which connected to Spot Pond. The portion of the river before its current beginning, and into which Spot Pond Brook emptied, was sometimes known as Spot and Ell Pond Brook. Others just referred to it as the Malden River. This portion was prone to flooding and contained a few small ponds. Its other sources included several small creeks that have since been covered or replaced by drainage pipes and culverts. One of these creeks flowed along the old Boston and Maine Railroad Saugus Branch tracks and was called B&M. The second one is Townline Brook Canal (aka the rat trails), which now terminates near Broadway. Townline Brook empties into the Pines River now at the Linden end of Malden. One brook called Shilly Shally is west of Washington Street in Melrose and only flows during the spring. It cascades from the Middlesex Fells Reservation in an amazing waterfall only be channeled underground to Spot and Ell Pond Brook.
Further up, at Spot and Ell Pond Brook (near the current Oak Grove MBTA station), there is a tributary that is mostly underground, but appears in Pine Banks Park and Forest Dale Cemetery. Alongside the commuter rail tracks to Wyoming Hill Station in Melrose, the brook is above ground. A small section of Spot Pond Brook is above ground in Stoneham, north of Wyoming Avenue. Spot Pond Brook is entirely above ground in the Fells Reservation.
Near the present-day post office, there is a park called Coytemore Lea. The river once flowed through this park. It was decorated with bridges, waterfalls and flowers. The river has been covered up, but the park still remains.
The above-ground portion of the Malden River starts behind Canal Street in the southwest corner of Malden, where it is fed by three underground canals. The canals then converge to form the above ground portion of the river. The first canal is a long straight passageway that is divided into two half sections by a concrete divider. It contains the locks. The second canal is a concrete half circle with a bridge over it. It is surprisingly deep at about 230 feet (70 m). This canal is a gathering spot for spawning Alewife and the stripers that follow them. The third canal is structured like the first, except it is much shorter and lacks any locks. This canal is where the actual river continues underground.
There are a set of locks controlling the first canal that leads underground at the beginning of the river. Nothing more than metal barriers lowered by turning a knob, these prevent water from flooding the underground streams in Malden. These locks are very rarely closed. There is a set at the beginning of the canal, and a set at the end, right before the water disappears underground. After emerging above ground, the river then flows southward for about two miles and empties into the Mystic River after passing through Medford, Somerville, and Everett.
The Native Americans and settlers used the Malden River for recreation and commercial purposes. Alewife and Blueback Herring were once caught in this river with nets. Although the first village was nearby at Bell Rock, the salt marshes and tidal flats that surrounded the river proved ill suited for growing crops and thus remained undeveloped for the next 200 years.
Malden River Industry
In 1845, the Malden Canal project dredged and straightened the river making it possible for barges to come up the river to deliver lumber, coal, and tar products to a state of the art energy plant. It was the deepest penetration and substantial modification of an inland waterway for industrial use until then attempted in the country. In 1847, Otis Tufts built the first wharf at Sandy Beach to unload coal and lumber products on the Medford Street side.
In 1845, the completion of the Boston and Maine Railroad followed by the Saugus Branch Railroad in 1853 fostered development of industry along its route including the river. Coal storage yards, lumber companies, leather tanning, coal gasification, metal finishing, and textile and chemical manufacturing companies located along the river. In 1874 and after, much further dredging, filling, and straightening, and sometimes culverting of the Malden River and its tributary, the Little River, was done, dramatically altering the Malden from a curving river and streams to a straight channel.
In 1853, Elisha S. Converse, fourth cousin of Marquis, opened the Boston Rubber Shoe Company on the Malden River. The company made rubber shoes and rubber overshoes for the winter slush. It grew to employ 3,500 people and became one of the largest rubber manufacturers in the country. In 1875 his factory was severely damaged by fire, but he managed to rebuild it within a few months. The business was so prosperous that it expanded to Melrose and later opened branches around the country and even in England. Converse was company treasurer and general manager for 40 years, and president from 1893. It was later bought out by a larger firm.
In his late 30s, Marquis Mills Converse, who was previously a respected manager at a footwear manufacturing firm, opened the Converse Rubber Shoe in 1908 along the Malden River. The company was a rubber shoe manufacturer, providing winterized rubber soled footwear for men, women, and children as well as auto tires. By 1910, Converse was producing 4,000 shoes daily, but it was not until 1915 that the company began manufacturing athletic shoes for tennis. The company’s main turning point came in 1917 when the Converse All-Star basketball shoe was introduced. When the U.S. entered World War II in 1941, Converse shifted production to manufacturing rubberized footwear, outerwear, and protective suits for the military. Widely popular during the 1950s and 1960s, Converse promoted a distinctly American image. Through its shoes, Converse developed into an iconic brand, and came to be seen as the essential sports shoe. Converse lost much of its apparent near-monopoly from the 1970s onward, with the surge of new competitors. The loss of market share, combined with poor business decisions, forced Converse to file for bankruptcy in 2001 and was bought by Nike in 2003.
Over forty companies were located near the river at some point. On the Malden side, going up river, below River’s Edge, they included:
- Allied Chemical Corporation and
- Champlin and Hobbs Box Company (1919).
Above River’s Edge were:
- Barrett Chemical (1932) then Allied Chemical Corporation (1974)
- Richards Corporation Metal Refining
- Solvent Chemical Company/Blox Chemical Company
- Hopwood Retinning Corporation
- Edgeworth Tannery (1851), then Webster and Company Tannery (1881), Bradley Oil Refining Company (1914), and Blue Diamond Material Company (1926)
- Bell Rock Leather & Tanning
- Eastern Metal Refining, and
- H.H. McGuire & Co. Road Material Manufacturing.
The U.S. Navy Nitre Depot was located just below Medford Street where Brother Gilbert Memorial Stadium now is.
A section of Malden is above it on the east. The Massachusetts Electric facility is there. Above it below Medford Street were the Cyrus Washburn coal yard, E.E.Locke Coal Company (1887) and then Van Swearingen Group Pittston Company (1930) coal companies and Mystic Iron Works (1926), a “Pittsburgh-on-the-Mystic, followed by a variety of other companies
After the first two decades of the twentieth century, many of the active manufacturing facilities and their jobs left the area due to materials and technological changes, labor force changes, and environmental awareness. The energy technology became obsolete. Tanneries had evolved into chemical companies such as the Richards Company, Allied Chemical, National Electrochemicals Company, the Malden Paint Company, and Solvent Paint Company. They were hard hit by environmental awareness and disappeared by the 1970s.
Route 16 was built and the areas near the river went from being a relatively isolated to being urban and densely populated in the 1950s and 1960s. The river’s value as a transportation corridor disappeared and instead of being a focal point, it was forgotten at best and a liability due to its environmental hazards. In Medford, facilities were generally demolished and the sites used for storage and other lower end uses. In the 1970s, some of the area was taken by the Malden Redevelopment Authority and converted to industrial or public use.
Beginning in 1996, TeleCom City, an ambitious plan for development of 207 industrial acres on both sides of the Malden River, was proposed by the Mystic Valley Development Commission with support of the mayors of Everett, Malden, and Medford. The ambitious plan was for it to be a center of the region’s telecommunications industry. It included 1.8 million square feet of office/research, manufacturing, and development space, roadways, the Malden River Park, and much remediation work in the area. Despite much planning and optimism, the project stalled.
In 2004, River’s Edge, a thirty acre mixed use development was built on the Medford side of the river. If not boating, it can be reached by taking River’s Edge Drive /Commercial Street up from Route 16 (get off at Wellington Station) in Medford or down from Route 60 in Malden to 100/200 River’s Edge Drive.
Previously, this site was a marshland with a narrow secondary road running along the rail tracks. Photos show small secondary industrial buildings including the Hobbs Box company. Over time it became a dumping ground for thousands of tires and much other trash. A very large old trash barge was abandoned and sunk on the river bank.
Sponsors of the project include Medford, Malden, and Everett through the Mystic Valley Development Commission, the Malden Redevelopment Authority, and the MDC. The Commission put together the acreage from eleven property owners.
The site is being developed by Preotle, Lane & Associates led by John Preotle. Preparing the site was a major task. Over 150 tons of rubber, 180 tons of tires, and 100 tons of of junk were removed from this brownfield site. The barge was a major project to cut up and remove for scrap. 50,000 cubic yards of clean soil were brought in.
Preotle leased part of the site to Criterion Development Partners (since sold to TIAA/CREF) who constructed 222 luxury apartments that were quickly rented. In 2006, the new 9,000 square foot Tufts boathouse was completed on the site under Chapter 91 that permitted water use. In 2008, a beautiful ten acre park including a mile of paths and 1.5 acres of new or restored wetlands opened. A large weeping willow tree was retained and regenerated, providing a focus for community groups. The banks are lined with thousands of rose bushes, both to keep people off the bank and to handle the river whose levels change depending upon the needs of the Earhart dam.
An office building, the first to achieve LEED certification at the gold level for the core and shell was built, and two more are planned just above it. Planning is underway for the Wellington Greenway, a riverfront walk that will extend from River’s Edge down river to the Wellington MBTA Station, Station Landing, and the Mystic Reservation. In 2010, the Massachusetts Environmental Trust gave a $150,000 grant that, with an additional $75,000 from Preotle, will be used in planning this.
The Malden River has 4.5 miles of rowable water. In 2005-2006, About halfway up the river on the left is the Tufts boathouse. Tufts built the modern William A. Shoemaker boathouse as part of the River’s Edge development. It is used by the Tufts crew team, local crew clubs such as the Gentle Giant Rowing Club, and local high schools. Most days the river is clean enough to crew. At times, trash impedes the way.
The 1860s and 1870s were a period of great popularity of crew in America. Crews rowed in lapstrate six men boats. Two Tufts fraternity boat clubs were organized in 1864, the Theta and Undine. Each fraternity built a boathouse on the north? Shore of Mystic River, near where Grandfather’s House is. **location details and descriptions**The river was very tidal. The crews competed against each other but it was tough to keep enthusiasm up due to the distance from the campus and the challenge of raising funds. In the 1860s, the fraternities were replaced with an all Tufts boat club with about twenty-five members. By the late 19th century, crew diminished in popularity as interest in sailing rose.
Crew was revived at Tufts in 1979-1980. Two undergraduates, Steve Smoot and Bob Sheets, led a group of students who received funding from the School Senate for a rowing club for men and women. Women’s crew began to grow nationally in the late 1960s and 70s. After Title 9 was passed, many colleges began adding women’s crew to counter the big numbers of men’s sports especially football. Crew became a varsity sport in 1986. Gary Caldwell joined Tufts as coach in 1990, after coaching at Trinity, Marist, and Northeastern. There are now 140 college rowing programs in the country. 75-100 students now participate in the Tufts program on forty-five Tufts shells. Initially the ratio was 60 men/40 women; now it is 55 women/45 men.
Men’s crew is not a NCAA sport while women’s crew became one in 1996. Tufts is a highly competitive Division 3 team. The NESCAC league champion is decided at an ECAC regatta. Crew is a fall and spring sport, but NESCAC allows only ten rowing dates per school. Women’s crew is nineteen weeks between fall and spring, while men’s is twenty-one weeks. The spring season is very short; like many New England spring sports, the team starts training indoors and usually is able to get on the river by early March.
The Tufts Boathouse
The crew initially rowed out of the Union Boat Club and then Harvard’s Newall Boathouse on the Charles River. There was no practical way for Tufts to build a boathouse on the Charles. In fall 1991, varsity crews began rowing on the Malden River. Coach Caldwell was asked by Chris Marotta**sp? of Combined Properties, a former Andover and Boston University oarsman, to take a boat ride with Marotta, Mayor McGlynn, and staff from the AOK architectural firm (it did the renovations to Fenway Park) to see if the Malden River which he had never noticed was feasible for rowing. Combined was one of three companies bidding for the right to build what became Rivers Edge. The straightaway was good for rowing.
In fall of 1999, Tufts began rowing out of a warehouse up river from its current site and loved it. In fall, 2001, Tufts left Harvard and rowed out of a wedding tent on Combined’s property and in summer 2002 out of a steel framed tent. Two years of development were spent planning a boathouse on this site, but the deal fell apart in June 2004 over terms of the lease. Tufts began searching for another site on the Malden.
Meanwhile, Combined had lost the right to develop River’s Edge to Preottle, Lane, and Associates, but the project had stalled and the site remained a dump. In summer 2004, John Preottle approached Caldwell about building a boathouse at River’s Edge as a way of pushing to start development. Agreement was reached, Tufts raised $2.6 million from parents and alumni, construction began on August 1, 2005 and the building opened in spring 2006. It was designed by Jeff Peterson, a Cambridge architect and former oarsman at Princeton known for his work on boathouses, in close collaboration with Caldwell. The modern green building behind it was already planned; a traditional boathouse would look out of place. It had to integrate with the park but not bisect it. The building has a ground floor warehouse, with workout and locker rooms and a large meeting room on the second floor to address Tuft’s need for off campus meeting rooms and retreats. Tufts owns the building and has a 99 year lease for the land. A unique aspect of the boathouse requested by community groups is that it does not have a direct ramp to the river. Instead, a path passes between it and the river, part of a network of secondary path and the crew members carry their boats down to their dock.
Gentle Giant Rowing Club
The Blessings of the Bay Boathouse is also home to the Gentle Giant Rowing Club (www.gentlegiantrowing.org). The Club is a not-for-profit, registered 501(c)3, organization dedicated to introducing and nurturing the sport of rowing, regardless of age, culture, financial ability or physical capability; and to improving and preserving the environment in and surrounding the rivers we row. It offers programs for adults and youth including programs on learning to row. Its teams compete in a variety of races including in 2010 the Head of the Charles Regatta, the Head of the Textile, the New Hampshire Championships, the Cromwell Cup and the Providence Sweeps & Sculls. On September 24, 2001, its adult and youth teams competed in the Head of the Mystic race.
Its youth program that began in 2003 is especially noteworthy. It reaches out to the youth of many neighborhoods spanning from Medford, Malden, and Everett, through Somerville and Cambridge, including Winchester, Reading, Salem, Lynn, Melrose and Boston, and more. Its mission is to provide a solid character developing experience through the teamwork and competition of rowing to each of their high school age participants.
Each fall season, high school youth from GGRC’s partner cities Somerville and Malden, as well as many other cities and towns from the Mystic River Watershed, join together to compete as the Junior Giants. Races include the Textile River Regatta, the New Hampshire Championships, and the Head of the Charles to name a few. All high school age youth are welcome, and applications are available.
Somerville High School Crew has been a partner of the Gentle Giant Rowing Club every spring season since 2003. The Highlanders from the All American City row out of the Blessing of the Bay Boathouse competing in the Massachusetts Public School Rowing Association. GGRC provides the rowing equipment and management, and the school department funds two coaching stipends and the travel budget for the team.
Malden High School Crew has been a partner of the Gentle Giant Rowing Club every spring season since 2005. The Golden Tornados row from the Malden Rowing Center at 356 Commercial Street in Malden. They compete in the Massachusetts Public School Rowing Association.
Roca’s Teen Mother Crew known as Rowca has been a partner of Gentle Giant Rowing Club since the summer of 2008. Together with the Rowing Strong, Rowing Together Foundation of South Hadley, MA, GGRC provides equipment and facilities to help foster independence, self-worth, physical fitness, and an affinity group among other things. The team competes in the young mothers’ regatta at the Oxbow Marina each summer against other RSRT Chapters from the New England area.
Village Landing, General Electric and RiverGreen
On the Everett side of the river, the City of Everett had a municipal landfill near the mouth of the river. It is now the site of the large BNY Mellon Bank office building, their large parking lot and behind it is the pretty little Village Landing park with benches and a short walk giving a nice view of the Malden River. It is accessible through the parking lot. In 2010, the City of Everett received a $75,000 grant from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust to create a canoe/kayak ramp at its Village Landing Park but have been blocked by Mellon’s concerns about people coming through their property.
Above it opposite River’s Edge is the forty acre General Electric site at 62 Tremont Street. The site was the huge site of the United States Steel company and the Massachusetts Steel Casting Company, followed by the General Electric Plant. Industrial development began in the late 19th century. The Jupiter Steel Casting Company began producing steel castings in 1890 and they later built a larger plant. They disposed of their foundry refuse in the nearby marshes. Other steel and finished stone companies located nearby. From 1899 to 1904, the site was owned by the U.S. Steel Corporation and then the Steel Cutting Corporation. It was used as an aircraft engine testing and manufacturing site from 1910-1989. The U.S. operated a munitions storehouse, U.S. Navy Nitre Depot, on eight acres on the southeast corner of Medford and Commercial Streets (as of 1936 the Brother Gilbert Memorial Stadium) for much of the late nineteenth and early 20th centuries starting in 1864. Shawmut Iron Works in Everett produced armor piercing bullets for the government during World War I.
General Electric owned this area from 1910 to 1941, then the Defense Plant Corporation that placed five feet of fill on most of the site. The United States Air Force owned it from 1948-1984, with GE the operating contractor the whole time. GE bought the property back in 1984 and operated it until 1989. It produced and tested products for the military including Supercharger jet engines and engine parts. The plant was the largest employer in Everett and provided about 1,000 jobs. During the 1980s, GE began shifting production to other more flexible, lower cost facilities. In 1989, it further consolidated its operations and closed the plant. When it closed, it greatly hurt the Everett job market and accelerated the urban decline of the area. Much waste and hazardous material was stored on the site. The site then remained largely vacant until the buildings were demolished in 1999 after the last of the underground storage tanks were emptied and cleaned in 1998. Some businesses are in the area including Boston Coach and Teddy Peanut Butter.
The site is now a forty acre Brownfield site with heavy metals and bad chemicals on it. When General Electric left, minimal clean up restrictions for the site were set, as the original restrictions on the site were not passed on by previous owners. Much of the site is capped with one and a half feet of sand and in some places gravel. A road enters the site on the south side and the North Creek borders it to the north. No remediation was done along the river, and a fence along the river is a barrier to access. The site is now owned by Berkeley Green II LLC and is zoned for light industrial and commercial. The RiverGreen Technology Park would be a 500,000 square foot Park that of the site has would offer research, development, light manufacturing and assembly, office space, and on site renewable energy. It would restore the river front, with paths and park lands including a ten foot pathway and bikeway, a seating area and gazebo, and limited parking.
The Malden River industries generated much waste. Some was taken by barge to Boston Harbor where it was burned, watched by many spectators, then the residue was brought back to Malden for fill. Much other was dumped into the water where it settled into the sediment. The river became so polluted that the children who swam in it came out orange. The Earhart Dam made the situation worse by controlling the elevation of the river so it did not flow and prevented mixing. Water quality is further reduced by the use of combined sewer overflow systems, in which storm water and raw sewage share pipes. Thus, in times of heavy rains, high precipitation/high water, raw sewage is fed directly into the river. The river has improved much, but still faces contamination from storm drains and sewer overflow. Excess phosphorus and nutrients generate blooms of e coli bacteria, and make it a tough river habitat. It is safe for boating except after heavy rains.