Cambridge Begins Temporary MWRA Water Usage

10/11/20167 years ago

caution sign The information on this page may be outdated as it was published 7 years ago.

View overlooking the Fresh Pond Reservoir.

The Cambridge Water Department (CWD) carefully monitors the City’s water supply system on a weekly basis to ensure an adequate supply of water is available to meet the needs of our residents, businesses, and universities. As the severity of the drought in Massachusetts continues, the usable capacity remaining in our reservoir system has been declining due to insufficient rainfall.  However, Cambridge is not at risk of running out of water because in addition to our own water supply, we are a member of the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) system, which is operating at normal conditions for this time of year.

Based on the current reservoir levels and the need to maintain the operability of the water treatment plant, CWD will begin introducing MWRA water into Cambridge’s system starting Tuesday, October 11th.  This approach will allow CWD to maintain enough water in our reservoirs to allow the water treatment plant to continue operating at 10 MG per week through the fall of 2017 when the current weather predictions indicate that the drought will end.

In addition to purchasing water, CWD is expanding conservation efforts with top users and universities and will continue to strongly encourage the practice of indoor and outdoor water conservation wherever possible. This September the City reduced its irrigation usage by about 50% and is looking to turn off irrigation systems earlier than normal.  While additional conservation efforts are an important tool for all users of our water system to participate in, Cambridge’s robust water conservation/water efficiency programs over the past two decades have resulted in Cambridge users using significantly less water per user than other communities in the Commonwealth and will make this more challenging to find significant usage savings.

Because of the significant cost increases that the CWD will incur by purchasing water from the MWRA, there will be future financial impacts to the City.  Moving forward, the CWD will look to minimize MWRA water use, continue to maintain the reservoir system, and keep our water plant operational.

If you are looking to learn more about the current impacts of the drought on Cambridge or about indoor and outdoor water saving ideas, check out these useful resources:

Call 617-349-4737 or email us to request a Leak Detection Kit.

Water Saving Ideas: 



The Health and Environment Committee conducted a public hearing September 28, 2016 to discuss the ongoing drought and the impact on the Cambridge water supply, what restrictions on water use may be appropriate to consider and what public outreach is needed on water conservation measures.

To view PDF of the presentation from that meeting, please visit here.