Every few weeks — or even more often, it seems — we learn of some new, looming catastrophe for our planet because of the combined effects of climate change and the degradation of our environment by human activity.
Everyone agrees that the climate is changing, and that it will have far-reaching consequences that we only can imagine. So too, the activity by the seven billion persons with whom we share the earth is destroying the natural world at an unprecedented and ever-accelerating pace.
So it was with some degree of relief that we read the annual report by the organization Save the Harbor/Save the Bay, which informed us that our major metropolitan beaches never have been cleaner (in terms of water pollution) and safer for recreational swimming and other activity.
As lifelong residents of this area, we always are amazed that the beaches with the cleanest water every year are the M Street Beach and the City Point Beach in South Boston — go figure — but we’re sure there is a logical and scientific-based reason for why these two beaches have achieved ratings of 100-percent for the past six years.
However, almost all of our metropolitan beaches, from Nantasket Beach on the South Shore to Revere and Winthrop beaches on the north, improved their ratings in 2018 compared to their six-year running-average. Winthrop Beach, for example, attained a 100-percent rating in 2018 compared to a 97-percent rate for the previous five years.
There are many factors that contribute to a beach’s water quality. There are natural effects, most notably the amount of rainfall over the course of a season or over a short time period. The diligence of government agencies at the state and local levels in assuring that sewer connections are working as intended are a vital part of the equation.
We as individuals also play a key role in assuring that our water stays clean by making sure we don’t dispose of our trash and hazardous waste into our waterways, by using the pump-out services for our boats, and by picking-up after our dogs.
The clean and healthy beaches that we enjoy today are the product of three decades of hard work, effort, and great expense by officials and the residents of the Boston Metro area. However, we cannot rest on our laurels. We must commit ourselves to doing whatever it takes in the years ahead to ensure that our region’s greatest resource — our beautiful coastline — remains clean and useable both for ourselves and for generations to come. So we wish to thank Save the Harbor/Save the Bay for issuing their annual report card on the state of our beaches — and for giving us some good news, for a change, about our environment.