Arlington Reservoir Committee

Arlington Reservoir Legacy Website


Replaced in April 2017 by

Reservoir Committee Meetings for 2017
     We have scheduled the third Tuesday of each month as the regular day for our meetings.  They are generally held at 7:30 pm in the first floor conference room of the Town Hall Annex (rear section of the Town Hall). The next meeting is scheduled for March 28.

Committee Minutes and Agendas
Can be found on the Arlington Town website:

Reservoir Master Plan
     The Park and Recreation Commission, along with the Conservation Commission and the Reservoir Committee, have submitted an application for Community Preservation Act (CPA) funding for a Master Plan study for the Reservoir area.  If approved by Town Meeting, the project will move forward and public input will be sought. More updates here as this progresses.

Annual Report for 2016

     2016 was a busy year for the Arlington Reservoir Committee. The Wildlife Habitat Garden had its sixth growing season.  We also expanded our activities to the “island” in the parking lot and planted, or transplanted, a number of new plants this year.  We had help from many people on public monthly workdays - and from many volunteers at other times as well.  In spite of the summer drought, the garden came through well with the help of watering volunteers. The garden is for our entire community. We welcome schools, community groups, and others to participate in its growth and evolution.  

Water chestnut mechanical harvesting continued this summer under the management of the Arlington DPW, but was hampered because of low water levels. In addition the Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) had corporate and public hand harvesting events in the spring and fall. We hope to increase these volunteer efforts in the future.

Seasons of the Arlington Reservoir, an art show organized by the Res Committee, was on display from September 9 through October 27 at the Arlington Town Hall.  The show featured oil paintings, color photographs, black and white photographs, collage, mosaics, and digital imagery.  Over 20 local artists from both Arlington and Lexington participated.   

The exhibit celebrated the Reservoir being the "park of the month" in September, and showcased many reflections of “The Res” from around the year.  Images included the Reservoir in winter with ice covering the surface, in springtime with new greenery, in fall with colorful foliage and reflections in the water, walkers and runners on the paths in all seasons, and of course in summer with bathers at the beach.  The show was well received and helped broadcast more widely the natural and recreational wonders of the Reservoir.  Special thanks to Cristina Burwell, Cathy Garnett, and Martine Gougault for organizing the many details associated with putting on such a show.

Picture Posts Now at the Res
     Three Picture Posts have now been installed around the Res.  These are used for photographing and documenting changes.  In addition to providing attractive pictures, these are good tools for environmental research.  The Res picture posts are listed here:

Reservoir Scrapbook
     View the reservoir through the seasons via photographs by Rachel James at:  

     Financial donations to support the work at the Res can be made through the Arlington Land Trust, PO Box 492, Arlington, MA 02476, or through their website:  

Kids Reservoir Map and Guide
     The kindergarten class of the New Covenant School (NCS) in 2014 produced a kid-friendly map and guide to the Arlington Reservoir which is available here.

Witch Hazels
     On Saturday October 12, 2013 a crack team of volunteers planted three witch hazel trees along the path from the parking lot to 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. 

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:

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 wildlife habitat gardens 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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