Every day, residents of Eastern Massachusetts quench their thirsts, bathe, flush toilets, do the dishes, and water their lawns with water drawn from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) water system. Thanks to the Quabbin and Wachusett Watersheds and Reservoirs, 2.2 million people and 5500 industrial users have one of the most abundant and high-quality water supplies in the world.
The Wachusett system was constructed in 1897 to originally service the 29 municipalities within the 10 mile radius of the State House. At the time, the Wachusett Reservoir was the largest public water supply reservoir in the world. The Wachusett Aqueduct extends from the Wachusett Reservoir in Clinton, through Berlin to Northborough, MA. This 9 mile-long water system consists of 2 miles of hard rock tunnel and 7 miles of 11 ft-high horseshoe-shaped underground aqueduct constructed of nonreinforced concrete with a brick-lined invert.
From its completion in 1903 until the early 1960s, the Wachusett Aqueduct was the primary water transmission system from the Wachusett Reservoir to the City of Boston and surrounding communities. As Boston™s water demand steadily increased, a new system called the Cosgrove Tunnel was developed in the 1960s to provide increased capacity. The Cosgrove Tunnel is a deep rock tunnel running roughly parallel to and deeper than the Wachusett Aqueduct. Since its completion, the Cosgrove Tunnel has essentially replaced the Wachusett Aqueduct as the main delivery system of Boston™s water supply.
Today, a 10-year improvement program, initiated by MWRA with a series of projects to protect watersheds and build new water treatment and transmission facilities, is nearly complete. The Wachusett Watershed is just one