DPW chief: Res work will be done in 2004
by Dana Fronczak in The Arlington Advocate, Thursday, January 4, 2001

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 2004. 

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 water.

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