While the Department of Public Works has released a tentative schedule
for the repairs to the Arlington Reservoir's earthen dam, the details of those repairs still aren't known.
The project will be completed in May 2004, according to DPW Director
Richard Bento. Beach improvements on the reservoir stand as the last step of a 14-step process that includes a 19-month period just to gain
permits. In keeping with his hope of not interrupting a beach season, Bento's schedule repairs the beach area from September 2003 to May
Bento said he will need permission from the federal Army Corps of
Engineers, the state Department of Environmental Protection, and the local Conservation commissions of Arlington and Lexington. Part of the
reservoir lies within the adjoining town.
"We don't have anything to show yet," said Bento. "We're in the
process of doing a survey and our soil testing out there that we said we'd do for the citizens' group."
A 65-acre body of water, the Res is located on the Arlington/Lexington
line between Massachusetts Avenue and Lowell Street. It was created in 1871 by the damming of Monroe Brook. The dam, an earthen
embankment roughly 600 yards long and as much as 14 feet high, was originally built to supply drinking water for the town. But, in 1899,
Arlington joined the state's metropolitan water district and began
receiving its water supply from sources outside the town.
The state proffered a recommendation to fix the dam, though not
a direct order, by saying the town should remove the trees and bushes along the dam to preserve its integrity.
But many residents, 78 percent of them in a Reservoir Committee
survey, said they want the area maintained as a recreational facility.
That swimming area is separated from the main reservoir by a rock fill
berm that is not watertight.
Engineering reports from the firm Weston & Sampson recommended
keeping the reservoir at a lower height of 153 feet. But if that happens, a new beach area might be necessary.
Bento said his hope is to separate the beach area from the main
reservoir by possibly erecting a grout in between the rocks or a watertight curtain so the two sides can maintain different heights of