The Cambridge Water Department (CWD) supplies about 15 million gallons of water each day to more than 95,000 customers in the City of Cambridge, Massachusetts. Most of this water is obtained from a system of reservoirs located in Cambridge and in parts of five other suburban-Boston communities. The drainage basin that contributes water to these reservoirs includes several potential sources of drinking-water contaminants, including major highways, secondary roads, areas of commercial and industrial development, and suburban residential tracts. The CWD is implementing a comprehensive Source-Water Protection Plan to ensure that the highest quality water is delivered to the treatment plant. A key element of this plan is a program that combines systematic monitoring of the drainage basin with detailed investigations of the effects of nonpoint-source contaminants, such as highway-deicing chemicals, nutrients, oxygen-demanding organic compounds, bacteria, and trace metals arising from stormwater runoff. The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) is working with the CWD and the Massachusetts Highway Department (MassHighway) to develop a better understanding of the sources, transport, and fate of many of these contaminants. This Fact Sheet describes source-water protection and water-quality investigations currently underway in the Cambridge drinking-water supply system. The investigations are designed to complement a national effort by the USGS to provide water suppliers and regulatory agencies with information on the vulnerability of water supplies and the movement and fate of source-water contaminants.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Source-Water Protection and Water-Quality Investigations in the Cambridge, Massachusetts, Drinking-Water Supply System