Return to home

Massachusetts Water Resources Authority


May 22, 2023


Ria Convery, (617) 788-11105,

MWRA to Control Invasive Phragmites Spreading at Fells Reservoir


The Fells Reservoir

Fells Reservoir (above) is an MWRA emergency reservoir located in the Middlesex Fells Reservation in Stoneham, MA.  It is accessible by a gated gravel fire road off Woodland Road, Stoneham and by several local trails. It is a highly visited area by the public.

An existing infestation of Common Reed (Phragmites australis) – commonly called Phragmites -- is expanding within the upstream riprap areas of the dams which impound the Reservoir. In addition to being an invasive plant that will continue to spread and push out native plants, it is also a concern for regulatory dam safety because the plant is obscuring clear view of dam conditions during MWRA inspections on the upstream slopes and riprap.


fells work area map

Phragmites overgrowing Dam #8 riprap (T) and major work areas at the Reservoir (B)

MWRA’s contractor will start the work soon this May. There will be project signs on the dams. The work includes cutting and disposing of the plants offsite. The growth areas will then have heavy plastic tarps weighted with sandbags and sand-filled PVC pipes to smother the rhizomes (underground stems) to prevent them from re-sprouting. This effort may take a year or more to see results. The public is advised to not walk on or disturb these control areas.


Follow us

twitter icon
YouTube button
Sign Up for Everbridge Notifications from MWRA

Back to top