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Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
August 13, 2010

Ria Convery, Communications Director
(617) 788-1105, <>

MWRA Agreement with Natick Will Make
Old Aqueduct Lands Available for Trails

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A mile-long section of MWRA water system land in Natick will be available for preservation and recreation.
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Town of Natick officials, members of the Natick Conservation Commission and MWRA representatives toured the new public access lands on August 12.
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A total of 16 acres of land will be
made available to the public.
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The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority is pleased to announce an arrangement that will allow the Town of Natick to utilize a mile-long section of water system land for preservation and recreation in northeast Natick.

Working with the Town, the MWRA has issued a permit for a total of 16 acres to be made available to the public. Locally, the Natick Conservation Commission announced that it will hold a series of public hearings beginning in September to outline possibilities for the trail system and to get input from the community and from neighbors.

The Cochituate Aqueduct was constructed in the mid-1800s when the Sudbury River was impounded to form Lake Cochituate as water supply for the City of Boston. The Cochituate Aqueduct transported water to the Brookline Reservoir, which supplied smaller reservoirs all over the City.

The Cochituate Aqueduct was removed from the Commonwealth’s active and emergency back-up water systems in the mid 1950s. Since then, most of the aqueduct lands were legislatively transferred to other entities. The Town of Wellesley and the City of Newton already have already developed the Cochituate Aqueduct into open space trails, and the new Natick section has the potential to link to the existing trail system in those communities.

According to MWRA’s executive director, the agency has no current or future needs for this land. “Under a similar arrangement, aqueduct lands were conveyed to the City of Newton several years ago that are now used as part of Newton’s sewer system and as passive, recreational trails,” said Fred Laskey.

“By providing land for a new trail system next to existing resources at the Department of Conservation and Recreation’s (DCR) Cochituate State Park, this innovative repurposing of former waterworks land aligns with the Patrick-Murray administration’s overall goals and priorities,” said Secretary of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Ian Bowles, who chairs the MWRA Board of Directors and oversees the DCR. 

“The partnership that led to today’s announcement is also exemplary of the type of collaboration among the state and local governments and organizations that have supported Governor Patrick’s historic commitment to land conservation – a record-setting effort that has already protected over 61,000 acres of land while creating new opportunities for outdoor recreation in every corner of the Commonwealth.” 

Under the terms of the agreement, Natick will oversee a public input process and undertake planning, and any future construction and maintenance of trails, and MWRA will provide access to the land free of charge. The Natick Conservation Commission unanimously approved the plan at its meeting on August 12.

”We are very grateful to the MWRA for making this land available to the community at no cost, and we will work with neighbors and citizens to protect the land from development while exploring passive recreation opportunities,” said Matthew Gardner, chair of the Natick Conservation Commission.

Gardner said the Commission’s next step is outreach to neighbors and the wider community to get input and ideas.

Natick’s legislative delegation, which includes State Senator Karen Spilka, State Senator Richard Ross, State Representative David Linsky, and State Representative Alice Peisch, supported the Town’s application to the MWRA for the permit stating that, “granting the Town of Natick a permit to use its own resources to create a trail on that property will protect MWRA’s long-term interests while providing a benefit to a member community that will ensure proper stewardship of these public lands.”


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Posted August 13, 2010