Blackstone River map
Originating as a series of streams in the hills of Worcester, the mighty Blackstone River flows 48 miles south into Rhode Island, dropping 450 feet before emptying into Narragansett Bay near Providence.

The Blackstone River Watershed encompasses all or part of 29 communities in south central Massachusetts and Rhode Island. 382 square miles of its total drainage area of 640 square miles are in Massachusetts (this includes 24 of the 48 river miles). The watershed also encompasses 1300 acres of lakes, ponds, and reservoirs. The major tributaries of the Blackstone are the Quinsigamond, West, Mumford, Mill, and Peters Rivers. Worcester and Providence, the second and third largest population centers in New England, are in the Blackstone Watershed.

Originally named after the first European resident of the valley, the Reverend William Blaxton, the Blackstone Valley later became known as the "Birthplace of America's Industrial Revolution" when the settlers took advantage of the natural water power of the river in the early 19th Century. The Blackstone earned the reputation of being "America's hardest working river." In 1998, President Clinton designated the Blackstone River Watershed as an American Heritage River. The Blackstone became a part of the National Heritage Corridor system in 1986.

Watershed Priorities

  • Finalize the Bi-State Blackstone Watershed Five-Year Action Plan
  • Complete the Army Corps of Engineers Feasibility Study
  • Build a constructed wetland to polish Grafton's wastewater treatment plant effluent
  • Remove Mass Electric Dam in Millbury
  • Restore Leesville Pond, Dorothy Pond, Indian Lake, and Lake Manchaug
  • Ensure brownfields impacts to the Blackstone are consistent with the future use of the river

Watershed Success

  • Restoration of Salisbury Pond, Flint Pond, and Lake Ripple
  • Volunteer monitoring groups reached 56 sites in headwaters of the Blackstone and is expanding to the whole watershed
  • Three watershed surveys and a Middle River survey were completed
  • Metacomet Land Trust received a Bay Watershed Grant to develop a Greenways Plan for the watershed

Meandering Blackstone River Looking Ahead

In the coming months, the following two issues will be worked on in the watershed:

  • Integrating the efforts of the three active organizations in the Blackstone watershed
  • Enhancing outreach to the public about their ties to Narragansett Bay

Watershed Publications

Watershed Links

The John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor

This information is provided by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs, Office of Water Policy