Housatonic River watershed map
The Housatonic River flows from north to south through a rolling valley between the Taconic Mountain Range of eastern New York State and the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts. Eventually it meanders through the state of Connecticut and empties into Long Island Sound.

The river flows 69 miles through Massachusetts, starting in Muddy Pond in the Town of Washington. The watershed drains approximately 504 square miles of land in western Massachusetts and eastern New York, and is made up of all or part of 18 municipalities.

According to the 1990 census data, the Massachusetts portion of the watershed supports a population of approximately 94,000 people with more than half of the total population residing in the City of Pittsfield.

The watershed exhibits variable hydrology, both swift and meandering river segments and streams, productive aquifers, extensive wetland habitat, and approximately 118 lakes and ponds. The calcareous substrate and variability of terrain and climate supports a prolific biological community, including approximately 117 rare plant species, 33 rare animal species, and 18 significant natural biological communities.

Watershed Priorities

  • Remediation and restoration of the Housatonic River from PCB contamination
  • Work to reduce the eutrophication of lakes and ponds, and manage exotic invasive plants and animals
  • Promote conservation and the importance of biodiversity within the watershed with focus on the issues of wetlands, habitat, and open space
  • Increase environmental education and natural resources stewardship
  • Work to improve water quality in the watershed by supporting the development of a volunteer water quality monitoring program

People enjoying the Housatonic River Watershed Success

The Natural Resource Damages Trustees and a restoration consultant, Woodlot Alternatives, have worked together to develop a restoration plan that works to maximize native riparian habitat for the first two miles of the PCB restoration in Pittsfield. This area is subject to remediation under the EPA and General Electric Consent Decree. Restoration began in October of 1999.

Watershed Publications

Housatonic River Watershed Action Plan pdf format of wap_housatonic_2003.pdf
file size 19MB

Watershed Links

The Great Barrington Housatonic River Walk
Housatonic River Restoration
Berkshire Regional Planning Commission
The Housatonic Valley Association
EPA's Housatonic River Page
USGS's Water Resources Page

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