Wachusett Reservoir

The Wachusett Reservoir is the second largest body of water in the state of Massachusetts. It is located in central Massachusetts, northeast of Worcester. It is part of the water supply system for metropolitan Boston maintained by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). It has an aggregate capacity of 65 billion US gallons (250,000,000 m3) and an area of almost 7 square miles (18.2 km²). Water from the Wachusett flows to the covered Norumbega Storage Facility via the Cosgrove Tunnel and the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel. The reservoir has a maximum depth of 120 feet (36.5 m) and a mean depth of 48 feet (14.6 m).

The reservoir serves as both an intermediate storage reservoir for water from the Quabbin Reservoir, and a water source itself, fed by its own watershed. The reservoir is fed by the Quinapoxet, and Stillwater rivers, along with the Quabbin Aqueduct, which carries water from the Quabbin Reservoir. It is part of the Nashua River Watershed and is the headwaters of the Nashua River. Because it is an intermediate storage reservoir, its water levels are kept relatively constant while the Quabbin Reservoir fluctuates based on precipitation and demand. At times when the Wachusett Reservoir becomes high due to its own watershed producing a large amount of runoff such as during snow melting, the flow from the Quabbin is shut off and water from the Ware River flows backwards down the Quabbin Aqueduct into the Quabbin Reservoir for storage.

Wachusett Reservoir
Wachusett Reservoir Aerial
Wachusett Reservoir and Dam from above Clinton, Massachusetts
LocationWorcester County, Massachusetts, United States
Coordinates42°22′10″N 71°44′18″W / 42.36944°N 71.73833°WCoordinates: 42°22′10″N 71°44′18″W / 42.36944°N 71.73833°W
TypeReservoir
Primary inflowsNashua River, Quinapoxet River, Stillwater River, Quabbin Aqueduct
Primary outflowsWachusett Aqueduct, Cosgrove Tunnel, Nashua River
Catchment area108 sq mi (280 km2)
Basin countriesUnited States
Max. length7 mi (11 km)
Max. width1.1 mi (1.8 km)
Surface area7 sq mi (18 km2)
Average depth48 ft (15 m)
Max. depth120 ft (37 m)
Water volume65,000,000,000 US gal (0.25 km3)
Shore length121 mi (34 km)
Surface elevation384 ft (117 m)[1]
SettlementsClinton, West Boylston, Boylston, Sterling
1 Shore length is not a well-defined measure.

History

In 1897, the Nashua River above the town of Clinton was impounded by the Wachusett Dam;[2] 4,380 acres (17.5 km²) were flooded in the towns of Boylston, West Boylston, Clinton, and Sterling. Work was completed in 1905 and the reservoir first filled in May 1908. Its water was originally delivered to the Sudbury Reservoir via the Wachusett Aqueduct, with the Cosgrove Tunnel (completed in 1965) providing redundancy. Interconnections at the Sudbury Reservoir eventually delivered the water to the Weston Reservoir via the Weston Aqueduct; these downstream facilities were relegated to backup roles in the late 20th and early 21st century by the construction of the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel and covered storage facilities.

West Boylston's prominent landmark—The Old Stone Church—was left remaining as a reminder of those that lost their homes and jobs to the building of the reservoir. It is one of the most photographed sites in the area.

When it was built, the Wachusett Reservoir was the largest public water supply reservoir in the world and the largest body of water in Massachusetts. It has since been surpassed by the Quabbin Reservoir (see that article for a history of reservoir building in Massachusetts).

Recreation and fishing

Because the reservoir is the water supply for Boston, not all areas around it are open to the public. Regulations designed to ensure pure water include the prohibiting of boats, ice fishing, wading, swimming, overnight camping, alcoholic beverages, littering, animals, bikes, and motor vehicles from the reservoir and abutting property.[3] These regulations are controversial to recreation and fishing proponents, who argue the rules are not needed to protect water quality. A network of fire roads provides easy access for hikers and cross-country skiers.

In 1999, the reservoir contained 12 native and 12 introduced species of fish. The limited access, combined with abundant, high-quality habitat, produced state records for brown trout, land-locked salmon, smallmouth bass, and white perch. Approximately 80% of the 37 mile (59.5 km) shoreline is usually open to angling from April 1 through November 30, depending on ice conditions.

Metropolitan Water District map (Boston, MA, 1910)

Metropolitan Water District map, 1910

WachusettReservoirOldStone

Old Stone Church on the Reservoir viewed from the Stillwater River

Wachusett Reservoir Sign
Wachusett Reservoir

Wachusett Reservoir at Sunrise

Wachusett Res 2005

Reservoir from Route 70

References

  1. ^ "Wachusett Reservoir". Geographic Names Information System. United States Geological Survey.
  2. ^ "Wachusett Reservoir". Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved December 8, 2014.
  3. ^ "Wachusett Reservoir: Fishing Information". Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Retrieved December 8, 2014.

Further reading

  • McCarthy Earls, Eamon. Wachusett: How Boston's 19th Century Quest for Water Changed Four Towns and a Way of Life. Franklin, Massachusetts: Via Appia Press (www.viaappiapress.com), 2010. ISBN 978-0-9825485-1-6

External links

Cemetery Island (Massachusetts)

Cemetery Island is a heavily forested island located in the Wachusett Reservoir in Clinton, Massachusetts. The island's name came from its being part of an old burial ground that was flooded by the creation of the reservoir; 3,816 bodies were removed and reinterred in St. John’s Cemetery in Lancaster, Massachusetts.

Cosgrove Aqueduct (Massachusetts)

The Cosgrove Aqueduct, also called the Cosgrove Tunnel, forms part of the water supply system for the communities of the Greater Boston area in eastern Massachusetts that are served by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. It is a man-made tunnel connecting the eastern end of the Wachusett Reservoir to the John J. Carroll Water Treatment Plant in Marlborough. From the treatment plant water is delivered to the Boston area primarily by the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel.

The tunnel came on line in 1965, replacing the Wachusett Aqueduct as the main conduit used to deliver water from the Wachusett Reservoir. It has a capacity of 600 million US gallons (2,300,000 m3) per day. The Wachusett Aqueduct now forms part of the backup water supply system, and was briefly reactivated in 2003 to facilitate the interconnection of the Cosgrove Tunnel to the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel.

Nashua River

The Nashua River, 37.5 miles (60.4 km) long, is a tributary of the Merrimack River in Massachusetts and New Hampshire in the United States. It is formed in eastern Worcester County, Massachusetts, by junction of its north and south branches near Lancaster, and flows generally north-northeast past Groton to join the Merrimack at Nashua, New Hampshire. The Nashua River Watershed occupies a major portion of north-central Massachusetts and a much smaller portion of southern New Hampshire.

The north branch rises west of Fitchburg and Westminster. It flows about 30 miles (48 km) generally southeast past Fitchburg, and joins the south branch about 5 miles (8.0 km) below its issuance from the Wachusett Reservoir.

North Nashua River

The North Nashua River is a river in northern Massachusetts. It rises from the Whitman River and Phillips Brook west of Fitchburg and Westminster. It flows 19.9 miles (32.0 km), generally southeastward, past Fitchburg and joins the South Nashua River, about 5 miles (8.0 km) below its issuance from the Wachusett Reservoir, to form the Nashua River.

Quabbin Aqueduct

The Quabbin Aqueduct carries water from the Quabbin Reservoir to the Wachusett Reservoir. It is part of the Eastern Massachusetts public water supply system, maintained by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). At 25 miles (40 km) in length, it is one of the longest aqueduct tunnels in the world being ​1⁄2 mile (0.8 km) shorter than the Hetch Hetchy Aqueduct.

Quabbin Reservoir

The Quabbin Reservoir is the largest inland body of water in Massachusetts, and was built between 1930 and 1939. Today, along with the Wachusett Reservoir, it is the primary water supply for Boston, some 65 miles (105 km) to the east as well as 40 other communities in Greater Boston. It also supplies water to three towns west of the reservoir and acts as backup supply for three others. It has an aggregate capacity of 412 billion US gallons (1,560 GL) and an area of 38.6 square miles (99.9 km2).

Quinapoxet River

The Quinapoxet River is part of the Nashua River watershed in northern Massachusetts in the United States. It is part of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority water system supplying drinking water to the greater Boston area.

The uppermost tributaries of the Quinapoxet River rise in the town of Princeton, Massachusetts, the watershed generally known as the Upper Worcester Plateau, or the Monadnock Upland. This watershed tops at Wachusett Mountain, the highest feature in the area. Water flowing east from this high ground feeds the Nashua River watershed, and water flowing west feeds the Ware River or the Millers River watersheds, heading to the Connecticut River.

The Quinapoxet Dam in Holden impounds 1,100.0 million US gallons in the Quinapoxet Reservoir, a Worcester drinking water supply. Below the dam, the Quinapoxet River flows 7.9 miles (12.7 km) east to the Wachusett Reservoir, joining the Stillwater River (to become the south branch of the Nashua River) in the Oakdale section of West Boylston. The city of Worcester can divert up to 36% of the Quinapoxet River water. The Quinapoxet Dam is an earthen dam with a concrete spillway. The outflow is not adjustable, so the reservoir only supplies excess water to the Quinapoxet River. Research has been conducted on whether to remove the Quinapoxet Dam.

The Quinapoxet and Stillwater rivers are the two major tributaries to the Wachusett Reservoir, which serves as the primary source of water for 2.5 million consumers in 43 communities of central and eastern Massachusetts. The U.S. Geological Survey, in cooperation with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, operates stream-flow monitoring gages near the mouths of both rivers. This and other continuous monitoring serves to maintain the overall quality of water within the reservoir. The water of these tributaries to the Wachusett Reservoir has been of high quality for decades.

About 35% of the Quinapoxet sub-basin is protected open space (Worcester reservoirs' surface water included). The City of Worcester owns the land that immediately surrounds each of its reservoirs and approximately 25% of its entire water supply watershed. It is a highly protected forest with no public access. Furthermore, the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) owns much of the land. The Town of Holden owns over 600 acres (2.4 km2) as the Trout Brook Conservation Area, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society owns several hundred acres in the Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, in addition to other properties within this sub-basin.

The lower Quinapoxet rates on alert for biology, chemistry and hydrology. Chaffins Brook is considered a "moderately septic polluted stream", and its lower reach has noxious aquatic plants in an impoundment. Trout Brook in Holden is considered to be high quality habitat and have limited disturbance. There are a number of medium yield aquifers surrounding Holden center, and to protect this resource the town has passed an aquifer protection bylaw.

Shepard

Shepard may refer to:

A common misspelling of shepherd

Shepard, Alberta, Canada

Shepard, Missouri, a ghost town

Shepard (name)

Shepard tone, a sound consisting of a superposition of sine waves separated by octaves

Shepard Settlement, New York

Shepard Industrial, Calgary

Shepard's method, a form of inverse distance weighted interpolation

Shepard's Citations, a citator

George F. Shepard House, a historic home in Omaha, Nebraska

Blue Origin New Shepard, a manned rocket that is being developed as a commercial system for suborbital space tourism.

Shepard State Park, a state park in the U.S. state of Mississippi

Commander Shepard, the protagonist of the Mass Effect video game series

South Nashua River

The South Nashua River is a river in Massachusetts that flows 5.1 miles (8.2 km) through Clinton and Lancaster. It starts at the Wachusett Dam on the Wachusett Reservoir and ends by joining the North Nashua River to form the Nashua River.

Stillwater River (Nashua River tributary)

The Stillwater River is part of the Nashua River watershed. This river is part of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority system that supplies drinking water to the greater Boston area.

The Stillwater River rises in Princeton, Massachusetts, the watershed generally known as the Upper Worcester Plateau, or the Monadnock Upland. This watershed tops at Wachusett Mountain, the highest feature in the area. Water flowing east from this high ground feeds the Nashua River Watershed, and water flowing west feeds the Ware River or the Millers River, both heading to the Connecticut River. The Stillwater flows 8.1 miles (13.0 km) through Princeton and Sterling before joining the Quinapoxet River at the Wachusett Reservoir in West Boylston to form the south branch of the Nashua River.

The Stillwater and Quinapoxet rivers are the two major tributaries to the Wachusett Reservoir, which serves as the primary source of water for 2.5 million consumers in 43 communities of central and eastern Massachusetts. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), operates stream-flow monitoring gages near the mouths of both rivers. This and other continuous monitoring serves to maintain the overall quality of water within the reservoir. The water of these tributaries to the Wachusett Reservoir has been of high quality for decades.

About 47% of the Stillwater sub-basin is permanently protected open space. The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority owns much of the land. The Town of Holden owns over 600 acres (2.4 km2) as the Trout Brook Conservation Area, and the Massachusetts Audubon Society owns several hundred acres in the Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary in addition to other properties within this sub-basin.

Sudbury Reservoir

The Sudbury Reservoir (2.02 square miles) is an emergency backup Boston metropolitan water reservoir located in Framingham, Marlborough, Southborough, and Westborough, Massachusetts. Nearly 5,000 acres (2,000 ha) in the Sudbury Reservoir watershed are administered by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation as a limited-access public recreation area.The reservoir was first begun in 1878, as part of a system of reservoirs fed from the Sudbury River to supplement the Lake Cochituate system in Natick. Today's reservoir was created by excavation from 1894-1898, with construction undertaken in sections. It was begun by the City of Boston but completed by the newly formed Metropolitan Water Board (predecessor to the modern Massachusetts Water Resources Authority). All told, construction required moving about 4.5 million cubic yards of soil and boulders. Water began to fill the reservoir on February 8, 1897, with construction of the reservoir's new Sudbury Dam on the Stony Brook Branch of the Sudbury River completed later that year.When completed, the reservoir's surface area was 2.02 square miles (5.2 km2), its average depth was 17 feet (5.2 m) and maximum depth was 65 feet (20 m), and its capacity was 7.253 billion US gallons (27,460,000 m3). The reservoir was fed from the Wachusett Reservoir on the west by the Wachusett Aqueduct (1898), and by local streams. To improve the water quality of the local streams, filter beds were constructed adjacent to the reservoir. The reservoir's water was delivered to the Weston Reservoir to the east by the Weston Aqueduct (1901), or via a channel to the Framingham reservoirs and the Sudbury Aqueduct to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir.

In 1947 the obsolete Whitehall, Hopkinton, Ashland and Cochituate reservoirs became state parks, and in 1976 the entire Sudbury System was officially reclassified as an emergency water supply. Today only the Sudbury Reservoir and the Foss Reservoir (Framingham Reservoir No. 3) remain as reserve drinking water supplies with the Weston and Sudbury aqueuducts serving as reserve transmission. In an emergency the Sudbury and Foss reservoirs can be placed into service either as a primary source, as an alternate pass-through for Quabbin/Wachusett reservoir water in the event of a transmission problem blocking the normal transmission pathways, or as a supplemental source in a major drought. In all cases the water would be untreated and would likely require boiling for consumption.

Wachusett Aqueduct

The Wachusett Aqueduct is a secondary aqueduct that carries water from the Wachusett Reservoir to the John J. Carroll Water Treatment Plant at Walnut Hill in Marlborough, Massachusetts. It is part of the public water supply system for the communities of Greater Boston that are served by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), which manages the aqueduct. The aqueduct serves as a standby backup to the Cosgrove Tunnel.

Wachusett Dam

The Wachusett Dam in Clinton, Massachusetts impounds the Nashua River creating the Wachusett Reservoir. Construction started in 1897 and was completed in 1905. It is part of the Nashua River Watershed.

This dam is part of greater Boston's water system, maintained and controlled by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA). Its discharge is into the Nashua River. When it was completed in 1905, the Wachusett Reservoir was the largest public water supply reservoir in the world. At that time, the Wachusett Reservoir Dam was the largest gravity dam in the world as well.

Ware River

The Ware River is a 35.4-mile-long (57.0 km) river in central Massachusetts. It has two forks, the longer of which (the east branch) begins near Hubbardston, Massachusetts. The Ware River flows southwest through the middle of the state, joins the Quaboag River at Three Rivers, Massachusetts, to form the Chicopee River on its way to the Connecticut River.

The Brigham Pond Dam, forming a pond of the same name, first impounds the East Branch of the Ware River in Westminster. The area north of Hubbardston feeds tributaries of the Ware and Millers rivers, the Millers River running generally west, and the Ware River running generally southwest. The Ware River is part of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority drinking water system serving the greater Boston area.

West Boylston, Massachusetts

West Boylston is a town in Worcester County, Massachusetts, United States. The population was 7,669 at the 2010 census. West Boylston includes the village of Oakdale, located on the opposite side of the Wachusett Reservoir from West Boylston center along Route 140. Although the town was split off from Boylston, it has a larger population than its eastern namesake.

Weston Reservoir

The Weston Reservoir is part of the greater Boston water supply maintained by the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority. It is located in central Weston, with its principal public access point on Ash Street.

Until the 1960s, the Weston Reservoir was one of two primary distribution reservoirs close to Boston, receiving water from the Sudbury Reservoir via the Weston Aqueduct (placed in service in December 1903). In the 1930s the system was extended to include water from the Quabbin Reservoir, delivered to the Sudbury Reservoir via the Wachusett Reservoir and Wachusett Aqueduct. Ths system has since the mid-20th century been upgraded to use completely underground facilities downstream of the Wachusett Reservoir. The Weston Reservoir remains a backup connection to two underground storage tanks near the Massachusetts Turnpike elsewhere in Weston.

Walkers extensively use the area around the Weston Reservoir. This reservoir is maintained by the MWRA along with other open distribution reservoirs (Sudbury, Foss, Brackett, Stearns, Norumbega, Waban, Spot Pond, Chestnut Hill and Middlesex Fells) as a backup distribution system. The grounds of this reservoir are also used by the MWRA's Emergency Service Unit for training and storage of emergency trucks and equipment.

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