Arlington Reservoir Committee

Map Produced by the Kindergarten Class of the NCS 

Ongoing Activities

New Reservoir Guide
     The kindergarten class of the New Covenant School has produced a new map and guide to the Arlington Reservoir which is available here.

2014 Reservoir Workdays
     We have scheduled the third weekend of the warmer months for various work projects at the Res.  Some upcoming activities are: garden cleanup, Spring planting, weeding, mulching, transplanting, fence building, trail maintenance, invasive plant control, having fun with others.  All times are 9 am to 12 noon.  Rain dates are a week later.



Rain Date


Saturday, May 31



Saturday, June 21

Saturday, June 28


Sunday, July 20

Sunday, July 27


Saturday, August 16

Saturday, August 23


Sunday, September 21

Sunday, September 28


Saturday, November 8


For more information call Martine at  781-641-2376.

Reservoir Committee Meetings
     We have scheduled the fourth Tuesday of each month as the regular day for our meetings.  They will be held at 7:30 pm in the first floor conference room of the Town Hall Annex (rear section of the Town Hall).  The upcoming dates are given below but check in advance as some meetings may be cancelled:

2014:  May 20, June 17, July 15, Aug 19, Sep 16, Oct. 21, Nov & Dec no mtg.

2015:  To be determined.

Witch Hazels
     On Saturday October 12 we had a crack team of volunteers plant three witch hazel trees along the path from the Wildlife Habitat Garden.  We were surprised how hard and poor the soil was but managed to get the job done.  What actually took the most time was waiting for the water to drain from the holes we had dug (see above). 

Arlington Vision 2020
     The Reservoir committee is part of the Environmental Task Group of Arlington's Vision 2020.  More information about V2020 and copies of meeting minutes can be found at the Town website:

Annual Report for 2012
     2012 was a busy and exciting year for the Arlington Reservoir Committee. Our biggest project, the Wildlife Habitat Garden, had been started in 2011, but needed some more plantings and maintenance work such as weeding, watering, and mulching. We held a number of gardening work sessions as well as a work project for a local Girl Scout troop, and many volunteers helped at those events and on their own time. One project we started this year was better signage to identify the garden as an initiative of Vision 2020 and to identify some of the native plants. We plan to expand this educational effort in the coming year.

     A new project this year was the Arlington Reservoir Calendar for 2013, with pictures from around the Res throughout the seasons. We solicited photos from people on the Reservoir email list and from members of the Menotomy Bird Club. We received over 200 picture submissions, and a subcommittee made the selections and put the calendar together. It was printed in September before Town Day, where we sold over forty copies. It was also carried at a number of local stores and turned into a year-end sellout. Special thanks go to Arlington Swifty Printing and Firefly Moon for supporting our sales efforts. In addition to increasing awareness about the Res, we expect to net over $500 from the sales for our future projects.

     The garden is a special place for our entire community. We welcome schools, recreational groups, and others to participate in its growth and maintenance. In the near future, we would like to involve the AHS Community Service Program, the boy and girl scouts, and schools. More information about this project, along with photos, can be found at the Reservoir website:

     Another major activity at the Res this summer was the second consecutive year of harvesting and removing the invasive water chestnuts that covered much of the water surface. Aquatic Control Technologies, with the support of the Department of Public Works (DPW), performed this work. In future years, the volume of weeds should be less because this process removes the seeds that produce new plants. This work was funded by the Arlington Waterbodies Fund, as approved by Town Meeting.

     Other activities performed by the Arlington Reservoir Committee included trash pickup and remediation work on the landscape island at the east end of the parking lot. Garden activities will continue through 2013, and we hope to do more in other areas around the Reservoir to control some of the invasive plants such as Japanese Knotweed and to improve the trails. More information is available at our website, and we welcome anyone who would like to help.

Reservoir 2013 Calendar Project 
  The Reservoir Calendar for 2013 was a sell out.  We want to thank our business sponsors who helped make this project possible:

Arlington Land Trust
Beausoleil Gardens/Martine Gougault
Cambridge Savings Bank
Lalicata Landscape Products
R.W. Shattuck Ace Hardware

The Arlington Reservoir Dam project was completed in 2006 which greatly improved the safety of the previous structure. In the following year a number of trees were planted to replace those that were lost. However parts of the area still look a bit barren, especially next to the new emergency spillway.

Reservoir Wildlife Habitat Garden
The habitat garden was installed in 2011, but ongoing activities continue.   The application and garden plans are available here as a PDF.  If interested in learning more or helping out please join our email list for notices about events.    Email List

Frequently Asked Questions

Boating - Non-motorized boating is permitted on all of the town's water bodies.  Canoes/Kayaks are allowed on the Res.  There's even a "put in" point just past the vehicle gate as you head toward the new spillway bridge from the Lowell St. entrance.

Parking - The parking lots off Lowell Street are available year around.  Another access point is from Hurd Field lot (behind Trader Joes) and then a short walk across the field to the Res. 

Swimming - Swimming is permitted at the Res Beach area during open hours in the Summer. 

Issues and Background

    The 65 acre Reservoir area (the 'Res') in northwest Arlington Massachusetts on the border with Lexington contains the second largest body of water in the town (28 acres).  It is a man-made pond originally constructed in 1871 by damming Munroe Brook that flows from Lexington.  The dam is an earthen embankment along the southern edge of the Reservoir some 600 yards long and as high as 14 feet (although the water level is much lower).  The Reservoir discharges into Mill Brook that flows through Arlington and empties into the Lower Mystic Lake which then feeds the Mystic River.  The Res was used as a town water supply until Arlington joined the Metropolitan Water District in 1899.

    For years the Reservoir served as a popular summer swimming hole until the water quality started to deteriorate.  In 1981 a separate swimming area was constructed along the northern side of the Reservoir with filtered water and a sandy beach.  The Reservoir is also a popular walking and bird watching spot the year round.  In 2006 an emergency spillway was added and the earthen berm reinforced with metal sheeting and concrete.  See Dam Project Handout

There are several pending issues with the Reservoir:

         The Reservoir is heavily infested with water chestnuts that are choking out all other growth and degrading the habitat for birds and fish.  In recent years, through manually and machine harvesting efforts the number of weeds has been reduced, and it is hoped that they will be eliminated completely.

         The results of a town wide survey indicate resident concerns about safety, recreational improvements needed and wildlife habitat maintenance.

         Mill Brook, which is partially fed from the Reservoir, is often flooded in heavy rains. 

The Reservoir Committee of the Vision 2020 Environmental Task Group is a group of concerned citizens working to solve the Reservoir's problems.  We have monthly meetings.  Anyone with an interest in the Reservoir is welcome to participate.  

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