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Recreational Waters (Blue Space)

Coes Pond Aerial View with Water Below and Trees on the Skyline

In Worcester, you can find over 20 lakes and ponds that support a variety of recreational activities, including bird watching, walking, swimming, fishing and boating. The City recognizes these "blue spaces" as valuable resources, and strives to maintain the quality of these waters for recreational use and the promotion of economic development. Worcester works with the Commonwealth, watershed groups and other local organization so identify and remediate threats to the quality of our lakes and ponds. We monitor water quality parameters in four of our biggest lakes, work with local scientists and universities to understand the data, create management plans and host educational workshops to help residents better understand the threats to our water quality, and learn how they can improve it.

2019 Lakes & Ponds Water Quality Monitoring Program Results

Worcester Fisheries and Water Quality

Fish are important parts of the aquatic ecosystem, both affecting and impacted by water quality. Over time, fish populations have shifted in our local lakes and ponds. The following is a report that compiles available data on how and why these changes have occurred, synthesizing years of data by MassWildlife, local water quality data and surveys by resident anglers to track how fish populations have shifted, where they are now and why. Below is also a presentation that includes a summary of the report's findings, as well as the steps the Lakes and Ponds Program is taking to make sure our fisheries thrive.

Worcester's Water Quality Challenges

Worcester's industrial history, as well as urbanization, poses challenges to maintaining the quality of the water in the City's lakes and ponds. Major threats to our waterways include nutrient loading and invasive aquatic plants.

Nutrient loading is the addition of nutrients to our lakes and ponds. An overabundance of nutrients promote the growth of algae and aquatic plants, which, in excess, can degrade the quality of water, lead to aquatic life dying and difficulty swimming, boating and fishing.

Nutrients enter our lakes in several ways. Runoff during rain events can carry nutrient-rich fertilizers and pet and geese waste into storm sewers or tributaries that empty into our lakes. Malfunctioning septic systems can leach nutrients into adjacent waters and sanitary sewers illegally connected to the storm water system can also contribute to the problem.

Invasive aquatic plants are generally introduced by accident. Seeds or pieces of the plant will hitch a ride on a boat trailer, boots or an animal traveling between waterbodies. These plants can rapidly reproduce and be difficult to eradicate.

Worcester's situation is not unique in the region, and is common to most urban areas. The City has taken proactive steps in the reduction of nutrient and sediment inputs into our waterways, as well as in the management of algae and aquatic plants.

Blue Spaces Videos

Watch these videos to learn more about the health, safety and beauty of our lakes and ponds in Worcester.

Links to Watershed Groups

Watershed groups are nonprofit organizations of citizens advocating for our water resources. Check out the below links to learn more about what these organizations are doing to protect our waters:

Major Bodies of Water

Resources

Contact Information

Sustainability & Resilience
City Hall Room 108
455 Main Street
Worcester, MA 01608

Accessible via WRTA Bus Line. View Schedules

Phone: 508-799-8325
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Office Hours:
By Appointment: Monday - Friday
8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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City of Worcester
Customer Service Line
Monday - Friday
7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
508-929-1300
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