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December 17, 2001

MWRA Renewing a Lincoln-Era Water Pipeline

As part of the ongoing rehabilitation of water distribution pipelines, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority is rehabilitating a Lincoln-Era water pipeline that has carried water to Boston and Brookline since 1865.

Despite its old age, the heavy 30-inch cast iron pipe, called the Warren Cottage line, is still structurally sound. And instead of an expensive replacement project that would disrupt the surrounding area, the MWRA is cleaning and cement-mortar lining approximately 6,500 linear feet of 30-inch pipeline and replacing blow-offs and air release valves along the pipeline route. The project will improve the pipeline’s condition and carrying capacity and ensure that its service area continues to receive high quality water and adequate pressure for decades to come. The process involves the excavation of access pits along the route.

The rehabilitation of the pipeline, which was built the same year the American Civil War ended, President Lincoln was assassinated and the 13th Amendment to the Constitution was passed abolishing slavery, should be completed next summer. Work began in October.

Once completed, it’s expected that the 137-year old pipeline will provide useful service for at least another 50 years.

"This project will greatly extend the life of this sturdy old pipeline," said MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey. "The Warren Cottage line project is one of many MWRA and community water pipeline projects designed to maintain water quality and reliability."


Old water pipes in the MWRA and community systems can create taste, odor and rusty-water problems for customers resulting from build-up of deposits in the corroded pipes. The Warren Cottage Line project is part of a long-range program to rehabilitate more than 20 miles of pipeline laid between 1848 and 1908 in the Brookline and Brighton area. MWRA is also providing interest-free loans for community projects involving water pipeline rehabilitation.

Rehabilitating and replacing old water pipes is an essential part of the MWRA’s Integrated Water Supply Improvement Program. Other elements of the 10 year program include: 1) comprehensive watershed protection; 2) a major new deep-rock aqueduct, the MetroWest Tunnel, to assure continuous water transmission to communities; 3) projects in the distribution system including pipeline rehabilitation and new covered storage facilities to protect water quality and ensure water security; and 4) construction of modern treatment facilities for enhancing water quality.