Watershed Protection Strategies

Land ownership

Since the early 1900’s, the City of Northampton has purchased land surrounding the reservoirs.  Land ownership is considered the optimal way to manage land uses within the reservoir watersheds.  Currently, approximately 73% of land within the Ryan-West Whately and Mountain Street watersheds is either owned by the City, or by other state and local governments.

Public access

The City has a policy of prohibiting public access to watershed property in order to reduce the risk of pollution from erosion, contamination, and other sources. State and federal regulations also prohibit certain activities in and near public water sources. Click on the link below for more information:

Forest Stewardship

Maintaining a healthy, resilient forest surrounding the reservoirs is key to ensuring high quality drinking water.  To accomplish this, Public Works worked with a Massachusetts Licensed Forester to complete Forest Stewardship Plans for over 3,000 acres of land in all four watersheds.  The plans provide an inventory and assessment of forest stands and guide land management efforts consistent with Public Works' role as a water supplier. Implementation of these plans began during the winter of 2013 and was completed in 2014.  Additional management to address forest health issues is ongoing.

Click on the link below for more information on forest stewardship plans and forest health issues:

As part of the Forest Stewardship Plans, all of the City’s watershed forests (with the exception of 12 acres) are enrolled in Green Certification and are managed to meet Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) criteria for sustainable forestry.  FSC is an organization that promotes “environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial, and economically viable” forest management practices.