Updated February 20, 2020
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Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
In May 2012, the MWRA Board of Directors approved a new policy (PDF) to partner with the host communities in the MetroWest area to create trails on inactive aqueducts to provide additional open space for the public and connecting with existing trail networks.
These agreements preserve the Authority's primary water supply interest in the land while allowing the host communities to officially partner with MWRA to become better stewards of MWRA land within their communities. These partnerships give the MWRA the opportunity to focus staff resources on the active system, while enhancing system safety and security by better controlling inappropriate public access activities, without unfairly burdening ratepayer resources.
MWRA has several aqueducts that serve as emergency back-ups to the day-to-day water system. These aqueducts have above-ground sections that are long and wide. Also, they run west to east when many of the old railroad trails are north to south, making them an ideal connectors to existing trail networks. The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) has been instrumental in developing these connections.
To date, MWRA has authorized approximately 27 miles of Aqueduct Trails, and municipalities have opened approximately 20 miles of these trails to the public.
MWRA has worked with communities to install interpretative signage along nearly all portions of open Aqueduct Trails. These plaques feature photo, maps and historical information. Each community has two interpretive signs per aqueduct.
In FY2019, MWRA received a Recreational Trails Grant from the Department of Conservation and Recreation. This funding was used to purchase 18 granite markers for improved wayfinding along trails located on back-up aqueducts in the towns of Natick, Needham, Northborough, Southborough, Wayland, Wellesley, Weston, and the City of Framingham. Additionally, the grant was used to purchase a new lawn tractor and hire an additional fulltime grounds person dedicated to aqueduct maintenance.