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Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
March 26, 2007
CONTACT: Ria Convery, Communications Director
(617) 788-1105, <>


MWRA to Begin Dam Safety Maintenance Project at High Fells and Spot Pond

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority will be performing maintenance work at the High Fells Reservoir and Spot Pond in Stoneham. This project will include some tree clearing and removal of root balls in risk areas on the dams.

The Fells Reservoir project site is located in the Fells Reservation in the highlands behind the former Boston Regional Medical Center.  The Spot Pond project site is located off Woodland Road behind the Gillis Pump Station and the South Gatehouse on the eastern and southern shores of the Pond.

Tree clearing on upstream and downstream slopes is critical to preserve the safety of these earthen dams for a number of reasons:

  • The dams were never intended to have a dense cover of tree growth but over time tree clearing was neglected;
  • Heavy tree growth loosens the soil on steep embankment slopes and makes them more susceptible to failure;
  • Tree blow downs and decaying roots create voids in the dam which can create pathways for water to escape weakening the dam;
  • Recent safety inspections under Massachusetts Dam Safety Regulations 302 CMR 10.00 have concluded the trees must be removed. 

All trees to be cleared have been identified by a Dam Safety Engineer (with blue and orange markings).  The trees will be cut and chipped and removed and the stumps will be pulled, and voids filled.  A Certified Arborist, with input from the Friends of the Fells, helped refine the trees to be cleared, and identify those to be saved.

After the project, the dams’ embankments will be maintained with close cropped vegetation.  The stone riprap will have no vegetation.

The clearing and related work will begin in mid-April and be completed within 60 days.  The work will be closely supervised by MWRA.

For further information please contact Jeff McLaughlin at (617) 660-7971 or

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