Farmington watershed map
This picturesque mountain stream flows southerly for 18 miles through the Berkshires on its way to the mighty Connecticut River Valley. Approximately 100,000 acres of the Farmington River Watershed lies within Massachusetts, with the remaining 285,000 acres in Connecticut.

The watershed in Massachusetts is approximately 85% forested with a population of 4000 people. The summer population increases dramatically as people come to the watershed for its vast recreational and cultural opportunities. There are many lakes and ponds within the watershed, most notably the heavily used Otis Reservoir.

The river serves as the City of Hartford's main public water source. The elevation falls at an average rate of approximately 100 feet per mile. In Massachusetts, the Farmington River's scenic rapids and pure water are utilized for recreation, particularly trout fishing. The watershed plays host to much wildlife, including the peregrine falcon, a recovering endangered species, as well as numerous fish species, including Atlantic salmon.

Watershed Priorities

  • Nonpoint source runoff continues to be the number one concern in the Massachusetts' section of the Farmington River Watershed. Whether it affects streams or lakes, runoff is a big issue.
  • Massachusetts contains the headwaters for the City of Hartford drinking water supply. Connecticut and Massachusetts have different water quality rating systems for their rivers, resulting in confusion and concern about future protection of the drinking water supply.
  • While sparsely populated, the Massachusetts section of the Farmington River Watershed is ripe for development. Open space protection is a big issue here.

Watershed Successes

Farmington River at Otis
A regular newsletter was established that was mailed to all residents in the Massachusetts section of the Farmington River Watershed.

Public forums and workshops have been held to gather information and educate the public. Our most recent workshops have been on Estate Tax Planning and Conservation Restrictions. This has spawned much interest in these programs.

A Diagnostic and Feasibility Study was completed on Otis Reservoir, the largest recreational lake in the region. This helped the Town of Otis get a Lakes and Ponds Initiative Grant to help protect the lake.

Looking Ahead

In the coming months, the Farmington River Watershed Nonpoint Source Management Plan will be updated.

Watershed Publications

Watershed Links

Farmington River Watershed Association
Farmington Valley Trout Unlimited
Hilltown Community Development Corporation


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