Un'ted States
             Environmental Protection
Green Infrastructure  Program
Community Partner Profiles
                                                                  2011 Partners
REGION  1:  Chelsea, Massachusetts
Community Background
The City of Chelsea is a small community of about 37,000 located to
the northeast of Boston. One of eight communities in the Mystic
River watershed, the city is bounded by the Mystic River to the
southwest and a tributary known as Chelsea Creek to the east and
  EPA Contact
Johanna Hunter
US EPA Region 1
1 Congress St
Suite 1100
Boston, MA 02114
Like many of the waterways within the Mystic River watershed,
Chelsea Creek is highly industrialized and severely degraded. All of
the jet fuel for Logan International Airport is stored along Chelsea Creek, as well as 70-80% of the
region's heating oil and road salts for 250 Massachusetts communities. The creek is also bordered by
freight forwarding companies, abandoned boat salvage yards, a tannery, and abandoned contaminated

The industrial character of Chelsea Creek and the contamination of its water, fish, and sediment
disproportionally expose the residents of Chelsea and neighboring communities to environmental and
public health hazards. Chelsea Creek is not only the most contaminated tributary flowing into Boston
Harbor, but also the second most polluted water body in Massachusetts. Given that Chelsea Creek
connects some of the lowest income and most diverse areas of Chelsea, Revere, and East Boston, many
view this as a case of environmental injustice. Residents of Chelsea not only experience higher than
average exposure to environmental degradation, but lower than average access to environmental
amenities as well. Compared to other Boston neighborhoods and nearby communities, Chelsea and
neighboring East Boston have the lowest amounts of open space per person.

Drivers for Green Infrastructure
Among the drivers of green  infrastructure in the City of Chelsea are the Mystic River Watershed
Association, the EPA-convened Mystic  River Watershed Initiative, and the next generation of small
municipal separate storm sewer system (MS4) permit requirements.  In 1972, the Mystic River
Watershed Association (MyRWA) was established as a volunteer organization to mobilize activists to
protect and restore the Mystic River. In 2008, EPA New England launched the Mystic River Watershed
EPA 832N12001

Green Infrastructure Community Partner Profiles
                                   2011 Partners
 Figure 1: Salt pile along the Mystic River in
 Chelsea, MA. Photo courtesy of the Mystic
 River Watershed Association.
Initiative to engage MyRWA and 21 other organizations in a
collaborative effort to restore the Mystic River.  Both of
these efforts seek not only to improve water quality in the
Mystic River, but to improve livability in neighboring
communities as well.  Green infrastructure is recognized as
an important tool in addressing these interconnected goals.

Another driver of green infrastructure is the next generation
general permit for small MS4 communities in north coastal
Massachusetts. Among other provisions, this permit
requires post-development recharge to approximate pre-
development recharge, and emphasizes source controls that
retain and treat precipitation where it falls.
 Green  Strategies and Programs
 Stakeholders in the Mystic River watershed have identified enhancing open space and public access to
 waterways as key steps in improving environmental outcomes and community livability. By creating
 and protecting open space and greenways, water quality can be improved while community amenities
 are enhanced. Massachusetts Environmental Trust awarded a total of $508,500 to five projects to
 improve public access to the Lower Mystic River through creating, expanding or enhancing
 opportunities for biking, hiking, walking, non-motorized boating, picnicking and other riverfront
 outdoor public recreation in the Lower Mystic River Watershed. The grants are made possible by the
 purchase of specialty environmental license plates, fees for which fund the Massachusetts
 Environmental Trust.

 Stakeholders in the Mystic River watershed are also engaged in community outreach and education to
 bring the ideas of green infrastructure to the residential and commercial sectors. The Mystic River
 Watershed Initiative convenes several community events each year, including summits, workshops,
 and outdoor activities. The Initiative launched with a large watershed summit in April 2008, which
 addressed flooding, industrial contaminants, bacteria delivered by stormwater, and public access and
 was attended by over 150 stakeholders. In April 2011, the Mystic River Watershed Initiative convened
 a stormwater workshop in Chelsea to review new provisions of the draft MS4 permit and educate
 participants on low impact development techniques. EPA Region 1  has also contributed to outreach
 efforts. In 2010, EPA awarded the Mystic River Watershed Association and community partners $9,000
 to conduct stormwater education and outreach.

 To build on the planning and outreach efforts described above, the  EPA Green Infrastructure
 Partnership will provide technical assistance to the City of Chelsea to identify and address the barriers
 posed by local codes and ordinances, and to recommend a suite of green infrastructure practices
 suitable for Chelsea's poorly draining soils.

 For more information: Mystic River Watershed Association, EPA New England - Mystic River
 EPA 832N12001