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.
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.