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Massachusetts Water Resources Authority


Updated June 8, 2021


MWRA Public Affairs

Update for Quinapoxet Dam Removal (MWRA Contract 7347)

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About this Project:

The Quinapoxet Dam is an earthen embankment and stone masonry horseshoe dam that spans the Quinapoxet River from bank to bank. The dam is owned by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and is under the care and control of the DCR Division of Water Supply Protection, which is funded by the MWRA.

The Quinapoxet Dam was built in 1905 when the Wachusett Reservoir was constructed as part of an effort to straighten and widen the riverbed to drop sediment before entering the reservoir. The dam was also originally intended to prevent upcutting and erosion of the river channel.

The Quinapoxet Dam is in need of repair and will continue to require maintenance and regulatory inspection into the future. When the reservoir was created, the dam had been completed as part of the lower river channel widening and collectively served to mitigate sediment impact on the reservoir. However, this riverine system has stabilized over the last 115 years. MWRA has modified the reservoir elevation to a stable operating band to eliminate highs and lows in elevation. MWRA also has a sophisticated real-time water quality monitoring system in place. Additionally, removal of obsolete dams are finding favor in the environmental community for the substantial benefits that result.

Looking across the spillway to MWRA’s Oakdale Power Station

Project Goals:
The Department of Fish and Game (DFG), Division of Ecological Restoration (DER) has documented naturally reproducing cold-water fishes in the Quinapoxet River and Wachusett Reservoir, and has done analysis on what the potential would be if habitat above the dam were accessible.

  • DER has quantified the habitat available for salmon in the Stillwater (now available) and the Quinapoxet (available after dam removal).
  • Dam removal could increase the salmon population and establish a highly valued fishery.
  • Quabbin Aqueduct transfer and hydropower station is structurally and hydraulically protected from the Quinapoxet Dam removal activities during and post construction.
  • Removal of dam no longer fulfilling its original purpose yet, under the current regulatory framework, will require a $500,000 investment in studies, design and repair work

MWRA understands the potential environment benefit associated with reproducing a cold-water fishery (i.e., restoring a salmon population formerly impacted by creation of the dam).  This project is a priority and consistent with the goals of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA), Department of Fish and Game (DFG), environmental groups and sport fishing associations. 

Project Updates

February 17, 2021

Construction updates will be posted here.

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Updated: August 5, 2022
Original Post: February 17, 2021