Arlington Reservoir Committee

Map Produced by the Kindergarten Class of the NCS 


Ongoing Activities

Annual Report for 2014

2014 was a busy year for the Arlington Reservoir Committee. The Wildlife Habitat Garden had its fourth growing season.  Some plants such as the grasses did very well and needed thinning, while a few bare spots needed some more plantings.  We had a number of workdays and help from many volunteers at those events and on their own.  We added a new kiosk to the garden area to provide more information about the plants and animals in the garden.

The garden is for our entire community. We welcome schools, recreational groups, and others to participate in its growth.  

            We also expanded our activities to the “island” in the parking lot which we cleared of invasive species last year and planted, or transplanted, a number of new shrubs and wildflowers this year.  A major project with the help of many volunteers from a local Mormon congregation, was the cutting back of the invasive Japanese Knotweed along the path from the parking lot to the garden.  Now the area is much more open and inviting. The next project we are exploring is the wooded area along Lowell Street next to LexFarm which is currently overrun with many invasives. 

Water chestnut harvesting continued this summer under the management of DPW. In future years, the volume should be less because the harvesting removes the seeds that produce new plants. This work was funded by the Arlington Water Bodies Fund, as approved by Town Meeting.  In addition we sponsored a hand harvesting event to clean up along the edges near the southern end near the habitat garden which we hope to expand in future years.

In addition to volunteer efforts we can also use funds for new plant materials and the like.  If you are so inclined tax-free contributions can be made to our work through the Arlington Land Trust at http://arlingtonlandtrust.org/ or P.O. Box 492, Arlington MA 02476.

Thank you all for your support.

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

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:

2015:  To be determined.

Witch Hazels
     On Saturday October 12, 2013 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:
    http://www.town.arlington.ma.us/public_documents/ArlingtonMA_Vision/index


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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