Watertown Dam

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Watertown Dam

Watertown Dam.JPG

Watertown Dam from the south bank of the Charles River
Relief map of USA Massachusetts.png
Red pog.svg
Location of Watertown Dam in Massachusetts
Location Watertown, Massachusetts
Coordinates 42°21′55″N71°11′21″W / 42.36528°N 71.18917°W / 42.36528; -71.18917 Coordinates: 42°21′55″N71°11′21″W / 42.36528°N 71.18917°W / 42.36528; -71.18917
Opening date 1900
Operator(s) Department of Conservation and Recreation (Massachusetts)
Dam and spillways
Impounds Charles River
Length 220 feet (67 m)
Total capacity 30  acre⋅ft (37,000 m3)
Catchment area 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2)

The Watertown Dam spans the Charles River 980 feet (300 m) upstream from the Watertown Bridge near Watertown Square in Watertown, Massachusetts. [1] The dam is located where the Charles River tidal estuary historically ended (the tides no longer reach this point because of the downstream Charles River Dam). Watertown Dam is of Concrete construction, a gravity dam. Its length is 220 feet (67 m). Its capacity is 30 acre feet (37,000 m3). Normal storage is 20 acre feet (25,000 m3). It drains an area of 0.2 square miles (0.52 km2). [2]

Charles River river in Massachusetts, United States

The Charles River is an 80-mile-long (129 km) long river in eastern Massachusetts. From its source in Hopkinton the river flows in a northeasterly direction, traveling through 23 cities and towns before reaching the Atlantic Ocean at Boston. The Native-American name for the Charles River was Quinobequin, meaning "meandering".

Watertown Bridge bridge in United States of America

The Watertown Bridge is a five-lane traffic bridge over the Charles River, carrying Rt. 16 and Galen Street. It connects Watertown Square on the north side and Watertown Yard on the south side of Watertown, Massachusetts. Pedestrian walkways line each side.

Watertown, Massachusetts City in Massachusetts, United States

Watertown is a city in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, and is part of the Greater Boston area. The population was 31,915 in the 2010 census. Its neighborhoods include Bemis, Coolidge Square, East Watertown, Watertown Square, and the West End. It is one of thirteen Massachusetts municipalities that retain the title of “town” while functioning under state law as cities.

The history of the dam traces back to 1632 when construction of a fish weir was authorized. The current dam, maintained by the Department of Conservation and Recreation, dates from 1900. It is part of the Upper Charles River Reservation. [3]

Weir barrier across a river designed to alter its flow characteristics

A weir or low head dam is a barrier across the width of a river that alters the flow characteristics of water and usually results in a change in the height of the river level. There are many designs of weir, but commonly water flows freely over the top of the weir crest before cascading down to a lower level.

Upper Charles River Reservation

The Upper Charles River Reservation is a Massachusetts state park encompassing portions of the banks of the Charles River between the Watertown Dam in Watertown and Riverdale Park in Dedham and the West Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. The park is managed by the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation. It includes land in the communities of Watertown, Waltham, Newton, Weston, Wellesley, Needham, Dedham, and Boston. Some of the Charles River Reservation Parkways also fall within the park boundaries.

Ecological impact

Herring gull with herring caught below the Watertown Dam Seagull with herring.JPG
Herring gull with herring caught below the Watertown Dam

The Watertown Dam is the second of numerous dams located along the length of the Charles River. The current earthen dam creates an obstacle for the river herring that run in the spring, but herring have long been harvested at this site. The Pequossette (one of the tribes of the Massachusett people) inserted stakes into the river then interwove brushwood to create a weir that would trap the herring as the tide went out. [4]

Today, a fish ladder provides access to upstream spawning habitat as part of a system of fish passages that provide access up to river mile 20. [5] The high concentrations of blueback herring and alewife below the dam in the spring make it a popular fishing spot for herring gulls, great black-backed gulls, great blue herons, night herons and cormorants.

Blueback herring species of shad

The blueback herring or blueback shad is an anadromous species of herring from the east coast of North America, with a range from Nova Scotia to Florida. Blueback herring form schools and are believed to migrate offshore to overwinter near the bottom.

Alewife species of shad

The alewife is an anadromous species of herring found in North America. It is one of the "typical" North American shads, attributed to the subgenus Pomolobus of the genus Alosa. As an adult it is a marine species found in the northern West Atlantic Ocean, moving into estuaries before swimming upstream to breed in freshwater habitats, but some populations live entirely in fresh water. It is best known for its invasion of the Great Lakes by using the Welland Canal to bypass Niagara Falls. Here, its population surged, peaking between the 1950s and 1980s to the detriment of many native species of fish. In an effort to control them biologically, Pacific salmon were introduced, only partially successfully. As a marine fish, the alewife is a US National Marine Fisheries Service "Species of Concern".

American herring gull species of bird

The American herring gull or Smithsonian gull is a large gull that breeds in North America, where it is treated by the American Ornithologists' Union as a subspecies of herring gull.

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  1. "Watertown Dam". Findlakes.com. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  2. "DCR Site Help". Mass.gov. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  3. Haglund, Karl (2003). "12". Inventing the Charles River (Google Books). Boston: MIT Press. pp. 424–425. ISBN   978-0-262-08307-2 . Retrieved 2008-09-28. A fish weir was authorized by the General Court in 1632 at the falls two miles north of Roger Clapp's 1630 landing site, the upper reach of the Charles River tidal basin.
  4. "Zubrowski: The herring run through Watertown from Mother's Day to Father's Day - News - Wicked Local - Boston, MA". Wicked Local. 2009-06-10. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  5. "DFG Site Help" (PDF). Mass.gov. Retrieved 2014-02-04.