The Division of Watershed Management recognizes the role of public education in the protection of public drinking water supplies and associated resources. Educational programs are operated at the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs where staff, exhibits and materials help to interpret the DCR/MWRA water system, the history of the reservoirs, and the natural and cultural features of the watershed. Formal and informal interpretive programs are provided for the general public, school groups and special interest groups. Staff also disseminates information about Public Access and recreational use on DCR lands. By raising awareness and appreciation for these precious resources, the Division is helping to fulfill its mandate to "protect, conserve and enhance the resources of the Commonwealth and to assure the availability of pure water for future generations."
The Quabbin Interpretive Services program operates the Quabbin Visitor Center, Education Programs, Teacher Workshops, and provides general information about DCR resources. Three full time staff members are available to assist with visitor information and services. An automated telephone system - (413) 323-7221 - provides 24 hour access to current information on fishing, hunting, programs, rules and regulations, and public access.
Quabbin Visitor Center 485 Ware Road (Route 9) Belchertown, MA 01007 (413) 323-7221.
The Quabbin Visitor Center is located on the first floor of the DCR Quabbin Administration Building in Belchertown and is open seven days a week on a year-round basis. With the exception of the Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years holidays, and the weekend between Christmas and New Years when the Center is closed, normal Visitor Center hours of operation are 9:00 AM to 4:30 PM. The Center features exhibits, brochures, books, and videos about Quabbin management and history. Maps, books, trail guides and related materials are available for purchase through Visitor Center staff. Vital Records for the disincorporated towns of Dana, Enfield, Greenwich and Prescott are available on microfiche for genealogical research, please call ahead to schedule an appointment.
For directions to the Quabbin Visitor Center, please visit Quabbin Reservoir
Quabbin Interpretive Programs
Quabbin School Programs
Educational programs are offered for school groups at the Quabbin Visitor Center on a variety of topics from Quabbin history to the bald eagle restoration program. Group size is limited to 60, and programs are offered on a first come-first serve basis. Prior arrangements are required for group programs, arrangements can be made through the Visitor Center - (413) 323-7221. Groups interested in just visiting the Visitor Center are encouraged to notify the Center prior to their visit. All groups larger than 25 persons are required to secure a permit from the Center. There is no charge for the permit, but the application should be submitted two weeks before the visit date.
Classroom programs and field trips are also offered to schools and groups in the watershed area and to communities which receive water from Quabbin. Topics range from water quality, water awareness, watersheds, natural history and Quabbin area history.
- Educational Information Overview
- Quabbin Park Information for Schools
- Dana Common Information for Schools
- Gate 35 Information for Schools
Groups visiting Quabbin Reservoir are welcome to stop at the Visitor Center for an introduction to Quabbin by DCR staff. This includes a history of the Quabbin area, a summary of reservoir construction, an overview of the DCR/MWRA water system, DCR watershed management activities, and information about the wildlife and other natural resources found at Quabbin. More extensive programs on Quabbin history and the bald eagle restoration program are also available. Group size is limited and program reservations must be made well in advance of the anticipated date.
The Quabbin Interpretive staff offers teacher workshops on Water Quality Testing, Watersheds, Project WET, Project WILD, Project Learning Tree, Quabbin History, and other topics.
A variety of non-staffed educational opportunities exist for groups visiting Quabbin including the Forest Stewardship Trail, eagle watching at Enfield Lookout, and 22 miles of hiking trails with a descriptive trail guide (available for purchase at the Visitor Center). Educational staff is also available to consult with teachers planning Quabbin or water related programs in their school, or for those interested in a group visit to Quabbin. Contact the Interpretive Services staff at (413) 323-7221.
For further information and to schedule programs, please contact Clif Read, Supervisor of Interpretive Services, at (413) 323-7221 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wachusett Interpretive Programs
Winter - Spring Programs
Wachusett/Sudbury School Programs
Classroom programs and field trips are offered to schools and groups in or bordering the watershed areas, and to MWRA service communities. Program topics include water quality, properties of water, watersheds and the cultural and natural history of the watershed areas.
The Wachusett Interpretive staff offers teacher workshops on watersheds, water quality monitoring, Project WET, Project WILD, Project Learning Tree, the MWRA water system history, and other topics.
Groups larger than 25 people wishing to visit DCR/DWM property must first obtain a permit from the Wachusett/Sudbury section headquarters at Group Permits, P.O. Box 206, Clinton, Ma. 01510 (978) 365-3272. Groups of 10 or more people wishing to visit the Poutwater Pond Nature Preserve must obtain a permit from the aforementioned address. You may also download the Watershed & Reservoir Permits application.
For further information and to schedule programs call Jim Lafley, Wachusett/Sudbury Education Program s at (508) 792-7423 x231 or email Jim.Lafley@state.ma.us.
The Stillwater Farm Interpretive Site in Sterling is an environmental education facility managed by the Division of Water Supply Protection. This 55 acre site on the Stillwater River hosts an 18th century farmhouse and a self-guided interpretive trail. This facility provides individuals and groups an opportunity to better understand the connections between land use and community character, and between natural resource protection and land management. Stillwater Farm, through scheduled programs and events, demonstrates both past and present interactions between the working landscape and resource stewardship. Particular emphasis is given to watershed related issues and dynamics. For more information, contact Jim Lafley, Education Program Coordinator, at (508) 792-7423 x231, or e-mail Jim.Lafley@state.ma.us
ON-LINE HISTORIC WATER SYSTEM PHOTOS AND PLANS
DCR, MWRA, and the Massachusetts State Archives have made available 8,800 photographic images that document the Metropolitan Water Works System (MWW; predecessor to both DCR and MWRA) between 1895 and 1926. Working with the Boston Public Library Digital Services, through its partnership with Digital Commonwealth, federal and state grants were used to digitally transform the collection at no cost to the inter-agency collaborators.
This treasure trove of photographs documents the construction and early operation of the water supply distribution system throughout metropolitan Boston at the start of the 20th Century. The collection covers the Wachusett Reservoir, Wachusett Dam, Wachusett Aqueduct, Sudbury Reservoir, Sudbury Dam, Weston Aqueduct, Weston Reservoir, and the associated pipe lines, pumping stations, reservoirs, and standpipes. The images include homes, businesses, mills, town buildings, schools, churches, cemeteries, and railroad stations. About 50 different cities and towns, as well as several Boston neighborhood districts, can be seen in this collection. These pictures, mostly derived from 7,839 glass plate negatives, represent the Boston area’s drinking water system prior to the 1926-1940 expansion that culminated in the construction of the Quabbin Reservoir.
To access the pictures, go to the MWW Photo page.
Once you are on the MWW Photo Collection page, there are a various ways to search the files:
- Browse by topic or by place (city/town) from the right
- Search by a word, or phrase. Be creative! Many more words are searchable than in browse by topic (note: land owner name most likely spelled with a 's, so if no result is found, try variations of the 's)
- After results appear, you can sort by date; and, if needed, change number of images per page
- Clicking on a single result, the top portion of the page will be the image and bottom portion the catalog record of the image. Click on the image, and a scale-able image appears.
Associated with the MWW Photo Collection is a set of 72 Wachusett Reservoir land survey blueprints. These blueprints were annotated by the MWW engineers with the photo number of 1,432 real estate images. There are links on the survey page and the photo collection page to connect to each other. You can find the place of a picture from the photo collection on the survey, or vice versa:
- Search by MWW image number. That number can be found in the catalog record obtained by the instructions above. Look for either the accession number or identifier. The image number is the digits that follows "EN4.05/2630X" in the accession field; it is the same number, without the leading zeros and without the leading MWW, in the identifier field.
- Click on the image result, and in the catalog record below, verify that the image number is located on that blueprint sheet (image numbers are listed in the notes field).
- Click the blueprint image to enlarge. Scroll around to locate the image number, which are annotated in red ink.
Utilize two separate windows – one for the blueprints and the other for the photos – to compare the image to its location on the map!
DCR Archives has compiled a comprehensive history of the MWW Photograph Collection along with a PowerPoint summarizing the archival preservation of this collection:
MWW Photograph Collection History file size 1MB
MWW Photograph Collection Preservation file size 4MB
Downstream Spring 2015 - Digital Archives file size 2MB
Go to the DCR Archives web page for more information about the entire agency’s documented history.
Project WET is a national water education program that features a highly acclaimed curriculum and activity guide for teachers. Trained facilitators offer WET workshops for educators, community leaders and natural resource managers. The Massachusetts Environmental Education Society is the state sponsor of this program.
Project WILD is an international interdisciplinary environmental education program focusing on terrestrial and aquatic wildlife and ecosystems. The program provides students in K-12 with critical thinking skills through the use of hands-on interdisciplinary lessons. MassWildlife is the state sponsor of this program; please contact Pam Landry at 508-389-6310.
Project Learning Tree (PLT) is an award winning, broad-based environmental education program for educators and students in PreK - grade 12. PLT helps students learn HOW to think, not WHAT to think, about the environment. PLT, a program of the American Forest Foundation, is one of the most widely used environmental education programs in the United States and abroad. DCR's Kristen Karl-Carnahan is the MA state coordinator; she can be reached at 617-626-1463.
Massachusetts Envirothon is America's leading natural resource education program for high school students. Teams comprised of five students represent their school or organization in a statewide competition testing their knowledge of: aquatics, forestry, soils, wildlife, and current environmental issues.
The Friends of Quabbin, Inc. was formed in 1984 as a non-profit volunteer organization dedicated to increasing public awareness and appreciation of the unique natural and historical resources of the Quabbin Reservoir and Reservation.
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) website contains many different sites of interest, including its school program, an on-line historical timeline of the water supply system, and annual water quality reports.
A History of the Development of the Metropolitan District Commission's Water Supply System file size 3MB is a 1984 study by Wallace, Floyd Associates that contains a detailed history of the water supply system.
Wachusett Greenways is a grass roots team of volunteers working to expand a network of trails and open spaces linking Holden, Paxton, Princeton, Rutland, Sterling and West Boylston. Its largest current project is the Mass Central Rail Trail, of which 10 miles have been completed and 30 miles are under development in Sterling, West Boylston, Holden, Rutland, Oakham, and Barre.