Friday, October 3, 2014

The Sudbury Aqueduct continues from Farm Pond down through Southside ... and beyond

The main conduit of the Sudbury system is the Sudbury Aqueduct. Constructed between 1875 and 1878, the Sudbury Aqueduct was in use for almost 100 years. On February 13, 1878, following just 2.5 years of construction, the gates at Farm Pond were opened, unleashing the first flow from the Sudbury River to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir from where it was distributed to the city of Boston. By 1880 the system of reservoirs along the Sudbury was fully operational.

Construction of the Sudbury Aqueduct 1875-1878

The aqueduct consists primarily of a horseshoe-shaped brick lining that is 8.5 feet (2.6 m) in diameter and 7.667 feet (2.337 m) high. The bricks are set in concrete atop a foundation of concrete and stone rubble. The aqueduct is covered by an arch built of brick. Note the intensive manual work installing bricks to line the conduit.

The conduit was designed to slope downward at 1 foot per mile southeasterly from Farm Pond into Sherborn, easterly to Natick, Wellesley, Needham and finally to the Chestnut Hill Reservoir near Cleveland Circle in Brookline. The aqueduct was designed to carry water from the watershed of the Sudbury River to Boston and its surrounding communities. The system was designed to transmit 80 million gallons in 24 hours—a factor of two more than the source was to provide—to allow for future needs.

Route of the Sudbury Aqueduct from South Framingham to Chestnut Hill Reservoir, Boston

The Gate Houses

At a number of places along the aqueduct are small buildings built to house control equipment of various sorts. These include a gate house at Farm Pond (abandoned after a channel was constructed feeding the aqueduct from Framingham Reservoir #1 due to poor water quality at Farm Pond), a metering house in southeastern Framingham, and control houses over weirs where the aqueduct crosses over other bodies of water. These control points allow water from the aqueduct to be diverted into the watersheds it crosses.

Partial Aqueduct route from Cedar and Waverly Streets to Irving and Herbert Streets.
The Aqueduct trail continues from this point to Leland Street and into Sherborn.

The Sudbury Aqueduct was taken out of regular service in 1978 and now forms part of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority's emergency backup system. Some of the open space along this historic aqueduct is available for public access. In January 1990, the route, buildings and structures associated with the aqueduct were added to the National Register of Historic Places.

Looking northward at the Sudbury Aqueduct from Leland Street. Opening the aqueduct route would provide area residents a pleasant walking path to downtown Framingham.
Gate House at Leland Street
Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA)

The MWRA was created in 1985 and assumed sewage and wastewater treatment functions from the former MDC (Metropolitan District Commission), now the DCR (Department of Conservation and Recreation), which still maintains the watershed lands.

Guidlines for Public Access to Commonwealth Lands under the Care and Control of MWRA.

While under the care and control of MWRA, the goal is to protect and preserve existing lands for water supply purposes. MWRA recognizes the importance of enhancing public access and public involvement in its facilities as a means of improving its own performance in facilities maintenance and building support from its ratepayers.