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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 DPW&P 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'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.

Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative

The Worcester Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative (WCMC) is a group of citizen science volunteers that is working to better understand the diversity of algae and cyanobacteria in Worcester's lakes and ponds.

Cyanobacteria are naturally occurring in our waterbodies, and are only a concern when their population reaches high levels.

Learn about the history and accomplishments of the WCMC!

Check out the WCMC's poster presentation at the 2020 State of the Lakes.

Reports of each sampling event can be found below. If you are interested in participating, please email dpw@worcesterma.gov.

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


Contact Information

Customer Service
76 East Worcester Street
Worcester, MA 01604

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Phone: 508-929-1300
Fax: 508-799-1448
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Office Hours:
Monday - Friday
7:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.

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