Water quality sampling and watershed monitoring make up an important part of the overall mission of the Division of Water Supply Protection. These activities are carried out by Environmental Quality Section staff at Wachusett Reservoir in West Boylston and at Quabbin Reservoir in Belchertown. 

Annual Water Quality Reports are produced for both the Wachusett Reservoir and the Quabbin Reservoir & Ware River watersheds. These reports detail the results of sampling performed in the tributaries and the reservoirs for bacteria, nutrients, conductivity, temperature, turbidity, algae, hydrogen ion activity and giardia/cryptosporidium.

The Surface Water Treatment Rule requires filtration of all surface water supplies unless several criteria are met, including the development and implementation of a detailed watershed protection plan . The Division and the MWRA currently have a joint waiver from the filtration requirement and continue to aggressively manage the watersheds in order to maintain this waiver. Water quality sampling and field inspections help identify tributaries with water quality problems, aid in the implementation of the Division’s watershed protection plans, and ensure compliance with state and federal water quality criteria for public drinking water supply sources. Bacterial monitoring of the reservoir and its tributaries provide an indication of sanitary quality and help to protect public health. The Division samples to better understand the responses of the reservoir and its tributaries to a variety of physical, chemical, and biological inputs, and to assess the ecological health of the reservoirs and the watersheds.

The MWRA also has an extensive sampling program throughout the metropolitan Boston drinking water system, conducting tests on water sampled at the source reservoirs (source or raw water) and also on water after treatment sampled from MWRA or community lines (treated water).  The MWRA produces a monthly newsletter describing the status of six general indicators of water quality: microbial; turbidity & algae; corrosiveness (pH and alkalinity); disinfectant residual; >disinfection by-products; and >mineral analysis.

The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), in cooperation with the Division of Water Supply Protection, Office of Watershed Management, operates streamflow monitoring gages near the mouths of both the Stillwater and Quinapoxet Rivers, the two major tributaries to the Wachusett Reservoir. An additional gage is located in Gates Brook which is located in West Boylston.  Data recorded by instrumentation at the gages are used by the DCR to monitor flow rates, water temperature (in degrees Celsius), and specific conductance (in microsiemens per centimeter). At the Stillwater and Quinapoxet River stations, cumulative precipitation (in inches) are recorded. A real time groundwater monitoring well, also located in West Boylston, is used to determine groundwater levels from the surface.  All of these factors have a significant effect on the overall quality and quantity of water that feed into the reservoir.  Real time data from these gages are available from the USGS website.

Water Quality of Tributaries in the Wachusett Watershed 1998 - 2007  pdf format of Wachusett Water Quality of Tributaries 1998 - 2007

Quabbin Reservoir and Ware River Watersheds Ten-Year Water Quality Data Review 2000-2009  pdf format of Quabbin & Ware 10 yr Water Quality Data Review 2000-09
file size 1MB

Annual Water Quality Reports

For more information, please contact:

Yuehlin Lee
Director, Environmental Quality
Quabbin/Ware Section
485 Ware Road
Belchertown, MA  01007
(413) 323-6921 x301
E-mail: yuehlin.lee@state.ma.us

Pat Austin
Director, Environmental Quality
Wachusett/Sudbury Section
180 Beaman Street
West Boylston, MA  01583
(508) 792-7423 x204
E-mail: Pat.Austin@state.ma.us