News Release Archive
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority home

March 19, 2001


The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) will be rehabilitating the 103-year old Wachusett Aqueduct beginning in early April 2001. The 11-foot diameter underground water transmission aqueduct extends from the Wachusett Reservoir through Clinton, Berlin and Northborough to the Walnut Hill Water Treatment facility in Marlborough, which is under construction. The rehabilitation project is expected to last one full year, until April 2002.

"The Wachusett Aqueduct rehabilitation is part of MWRA’s Integrated Waterworks Improvement Program," said Chief Operating Officer Michael Hornbrook. "MWRA is committed to providing safe drinking water through an effective and reliable delivery system."

United Gunite Construction Company, Inc. is MWRA’s construction contractor for the $21.4 million project. A community working group, comprised of representatives from Berlin and Northborough, has been established. This working group will meet monthly, alternating between Berlin and Northborough, to discuss the progress of the rehabilitation and air community concerns.

Although most of the rehabilitation work will take place underground, construction crews will use four staging areas along the length of the aqueduct. These staging areas will be located along the aqueduct at: (1) the intersection of Lyman Rd. and Crosby St.; (2) Bellevue Rd.; (3) Rice Ave. and (4) Maple St. Additional access roads will not be built for this project. Access to the work areas will only occur where public roads intersect the aqueduct.

Until the 1960s, the Wachusett Aqueduct was the main conduit used to deliver water from the Wachusett Reservoir. In its heyday, it carried 300 million gallons of water each day. Its primacy as the main aqueduct was replaced in 1965 by the Cosgrove Tunnel, which now serves as the primary transmission conduit. Due to construction of the water treatment facility at Walnut Hill, the Cosgrove Tunnel will be shut down in 2003 in order to make the large piping connection between the new treatment plant and MWRA’s new MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel. The MetroWest Tunnel extends east 18.6 miles from Walnut Hill to Weston. During this shutdown, the Wachusett Aqueduct will be the primary method of transmission of about 240 million gallons of water per day.

During the project a three-inch thick shotcrete liner will be applied to line seven miles of the 11-foot high, horseshoe shaped aqueduct to eliminate leakage and to restore its structural integrity. After its use in 2003, the aqueduct will remain as the backup transmission main for the MWRA system.