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Massachusetts Water Resources Authority


July 9, 2024


Troy Wall
(617) 305-5762,

Quinapoxet River Dam Removal Project
(Contract 7348)

About this Project:

To support climate resilient projects while also restoring important habitats, the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) is in the process of removing the Quinapoxet River Dam in the Town of West Boylston. The earthen embankment dam, which is 250 feet long, 18 feet high, with a concrete and stone spillway spanning the river, was constructed in 1905 to support the creation of the Wachusett Reservoir. It has outlived its usefulness due to significant upgrades the MWRA has made to its water monitoring, treatment, and transfer systems.

Importantly, removal of the Quinapoxet River Dam will provide upstream fish access to the Wachusett Reservoir where existing populations of Brook Trout and Landlocked Salmon are considered to be genetically isolated as the dam restricts vital migratory patterns. Additionally, an ADA compliant path and platform will also be constructed on the riverbank and interpretive signage will be installed. Other associated benefits include:

  • Restoring natural riverine hydrologic processes;
  • Restoring bordering vegetated wetlands and riverine habitat;
  • Enabling 35 miles of river accessible to fish;
  • Eliminating safety concerns related to the deteriorating dam; and,
  • Enhancing public access to a popular fishing and recreation area.

The project is supported by both the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) and the Department of Fish & Game (DFG), including the Division of Ecological Restoration (DER), who have provided technical expertise and financial assistance to enable the project planning and early site preparation work.

The total cost of the project is approximately $3 million and the construction contract was awarded to Luciano’s Excavation, Inc., of Taunton, MA.


Currently, the site has been prepared ahead of the dam removal project. Early site work included:

  • Furnish and Install Time-lapse Video Equipment;
  • Pre-Construction Photos & Videos;
  • Pre-Construction Structural Condition Survey;
  • Furnish and Install Temporary Traffic Control & Pedestrian Safety Signage;
  • Furnish and Install Temporary Fencing, Tree Protection, and Site Protection;
  • Pre-Construction Tree Clearing and Grubbing, Tree Removal, and Invasive Species Management;
  • Furnish and Install Deformation Monitoring Points;
  • Furnish Turbidity Curtains;
  • Furnish and Install Erosion and Sediment Control Features; and,
  • Furnish and Install Construction Entrances and Access Roads.

Major construction elements will commence in the fall and include the establishment of water controls to bypass the river around the spillway, leading to its deconstruction. Embankment work will focus on the removal of invasive plants. That will be followed by stream channel restoration, Oakdale facility tailrace protection, and finally, river bank restoration with native plantings in the spring. The project also includes a detailed sediment management plan and a turbidity monitoring plan to ensure protection of the downstream Wachusett Reservoir water quality during and post construction. All of this work was detailed and approved through a lengthy federal, state and local permitting process.  Importantly, the project also includes the construction of an ADA compliant path and platform, interpretive signage, and restore approximately 1,000 feet of upstream habitat and one acre of riparian habitat.


The major construction components of the project have a time-of-year requirement for in-channel work from November 2024 through April 2025 so as not to interfere with seasonal Quabbin Aqueduct transfers to Wachusett Reservoir to enhance Wachusett Reservoir water quality.

The MWRA expects the dam removal project to commence in November 2024, or shortly thereafter, with the actual removal of the dam to occur by mid to late-December. Afterwards, project crews will focus on other river site components, such as habitat restoration work.

Total project completion is anticipated for either summer or fall 2025, with post-construction monitoring to continue for two years.

Project Updates:

On Monday, June 17, 2024, the MWRA hosted a ceremonial groundbreaking to commemorate the removal of the Quinapoxet River Dam. Attendees of the event included several partners who were essential in the development of the project, including the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), the Department of Fish and Game (DFG), the Town of West Boylston, state and local officials, and other key stakeholders.

The event featured a site visit, a speaking program, and the removal of a ceremonial stone hoisted from the Quinapoxet River Dam Spillway.

The removal of the ceremonial stone from the Quinapoxet River Dam.

Executive Director Fred Laskey joined with DFG Commissioner Tom O’Shea, DCR Commissioner Brian Arrigo, West Boylston Town Administrator Jennifer Warren-Dyment, State Representative Jim O’Day, and West Boylston Select Board members Barur Rajeshkumar and Marc Frieden in front of the ceremonial stone that was removed from the Quinapoxet River Dam.

Historic Photos:

Below are historic photos of the construction of the Quinapoxet River Dam circa 1905.

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