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Massachusetts Water Resources Authority

January 5, 2012
Updated August 1, 2012


Ria Convery
(617) 788-1105,

Leonard Cawley, Community Relations Manager
(617) 660-7972,

MWRA to Begin Restoration of Wachusett Reservoir Earthen Dams
Work Will Require the Removal of Trees

wachusett reservoir south dike, from Cavill's Hills 1904
1904 Photo - Wachusett Reservoir,
South Dike, from Carville's Hill
Project Map
Project Map Wachusett Dam Restoration
Other MWRA Dam Upgrade Projects
foss dam Dam Safety Modification Projects

Update August 2, 2012 -The second phase of this work, on the North Dike, will begin this month.


Update April 5, 2012 - The contractor, Aldore Tetreault & Sons, Inc. of Mendon, MA, will begin work on Monday, April 9.


When the Wachusett Reservoir was constructed at the turn of the last century, the earthen dams - or dikes - were intended to remain free of trees and shrubs in order to ensure their integrity. However, since the 1930s, trees have become established on the north and south dikes of the reservoir.

Periodic dam safety inspections have concluded that trees growing on the earthen dams are a regulatory deficiency under the most recent State Office of Dam Safety regulations. The blowdown or death of trees on the dam could create conditions where water from the reservoir could penetrate root voids and ultimately lead to dam failure. 

Tree growth and underbrush also prohibit proper dam safety inspections so that any problems with the earthen dike may not be noticed at an early stage.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority is about to begin a project to clear trees, stumps and underbrush at the south dike to address this important issue. 

The work will include cutting and removal of approximately 1,600 trees on the south dike ranging in size from saplings up to 32 inches diameter, with the majority of trees in the 10-inch to 20-inch range. Most of the trees are white pines and are located on the upstream, crest and downstream slope of the dike. In some areas, stands of these trees are diseased.

Trees susceptible to Asian Longhorn Beetle infestation will be cut and chipped on-site in accordance with federal and state requirements. Evergreens will be cut and chipped and, depending on size, some will be removed in whole logs. After tree cutting and stumping the earthen dike will be graded and stabilized with grass cover. Once the grass is well established, the dike will be maintained by seasonal cutting.

MWRA will solicit bids for the work over the winter. Tree removal will occur in spring 2012, followed closely by stump pulling and site restoration. MWRA anticipates the work will be completed by June 30, 2012.

Tree growth on the north dike of the Wachusett Reservoir will be addressed in a future contract.

Updates will be posted on as the work progresses.

For more information on this project, please contact Len Cawley at (617) 660-7972 or .


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Updated August 2, 2012
Posted December 28, 2011