Noxious odor along Charles River puzzles area residents

SHERBORN, Mass. — People who live along the Charles River in Sherborn, Natick and Medfield have recently noticed a noxious odor, oily sheen and even dead fish in the water.

“It’s just the past 36 hours or so, it sort of came on suddenly,” said Laura Selvig, who lives in Dover. “We noticed it coming out of the house to walk our dog, but as you get closer to the river, it intensifies and I thought it was septic, but it’s all over the place.”

“We are just very grateful to the people that reached out to us right away,” said Emily Norton, executive director of the Charles River Watershed Association.

Norton says after hearing these concerns about the water, they notified the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection as well as Mass Wildlife services to check it out.

“It’s one of the cleanest sections of the Charles, so particularly people in that area, it’s actually swimmable and boatable the vast majority of the time,” said Norton.

Norton says this stretch of the Charles actually has an “A” rating for water quality, so this possible contamination is surprising for this area.

Many wonder if the heavy rain this month is a factor.

“More rain does mean more pollution in the river, it doesn’t generally mean what we’re seeing here in Sherborn and Natick and Medfield, so we do think this is a different cause,” said Norton.

Until they figure out the cause of this issue, Norton advises people to avoid recreation in this stretch of the Charles River for now.

“Kids around here, they swim in the water, they kayak, it’s summertime, we have ponds and I would want to keep my kids safe,” said Selvig.

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