Canoe on Lake

We envision a Worcester where our waterways are healthy, safe for their designated recreational uses, and accessible to all residents.

Lakes & Ponds Program

Keeping our Blue Spaces Beautiful

Worcester is home to over 20 lakes and ponds that support a variety of recreational activities, including swimming, fishing, boating, bird watching, walking, and more. The City recognizes these "blue spaces" as valuable resources and strives to maintain the quality of these waters for recreational use, environmental quality, and the promotion of economic development.  

To that end, the City runs the Lakes and Ponds Program, which keeps our watersheds healthy with full-time monitoring, management, and extensive outreach and engagement. 

Lakes and Ponds Program

Lakes and Ponds Guide

The map to the left shows activities and amenities that are available at each of Worcester's public waterbodies. These include activities such as swimming and boating, and amenities such as parking and accessibility features. This map makes it easier than ever to find out where you can enjoy your favorite water activities right in the City!

To use: click the ">>" arrows in the top left corner of the map to view the legend. Zoom in and out and interact with the icons on the map to learn more about what is available at each of Worcester's waterbodies.

Sampling at Lake Quinsigamond

Monitoring

Monitoring for Environmental Threats

Although Worcester is home to many beautiful blue spaces, effects of the urban environment can endanger our ability to enjoy them. Elevated numbers of cyanobacteria and E. coli can be harmful to humans and pets and require beaches and waterbodies to close. Invasive aquatic plants can make waterways less attractive and safe for aquatic recreation and disrupt native ecosystems. Low oxygen levels in the water can harm fish that people love to catch. The Lakes & Ponds (L&P) Program monitors these issues and collects data to inform management solutions. L&P facilitates in-depth bi-weekly monitoring from May through October at the four waterbodies used the most for recreation: Lake Quinsigamond, Indian Lake, Coes Reservoir, and Bell Pond. Though current staffing and resources do not allow in-depth monitoring of all waterbodies, L&P utilizes data collected by contractors, community and university partners and a community science group, the Worcester Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative (WCMC), to understand water quality and inform management.  


Management

Innovation in Water Protection

The City is at the forefront of a lot of innovative technology when it comes to improving our waterways, including invasive aquatic plant mitigation, and nutrient management. 

Our Lakes and Ponds program runs a state-of-the-art alum dosing station at Indian Lake to mitigate the invasion of harmful invasives. The station is a novel approach to cyanobacteria management that targets and immobilizes excess nutrients as they enter a lake to reduce lake closures due to cyanobacteria blooms. This station is only the second to be built in the state. In 2023 the station successfully reduced levels of excess phosphorus entering Indian Lake. We look forward to continuing to improve our operations in the coming years.   

Outreach & Strategic Partnerships

Leveraging Strategic Partnerships throughout the City


L&P partners with universities, watershed associations, and enthusiastic residents to leverage existing resources and programs to expand our reach and stewardship of our local waterbodies. 

L&P facilitates the Worcester Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative (WCMC), a dedicated group of over 50 volunteer community scientists that collect samples at 26 local waterbodies to determine the risk of cyanobacteria blooms.       

In 2022 and 2023, L&P partnered with faculty and students at Worcester State University (WSU) to extend monitoring in Tatnuck Brook Watershed to Patch Reservoir and Cooks Pond, two waterbodies L&P has not had capacity to monitor. WSU students produced lake reports for the two waterbodies summarizing their efforts.  

L&P works closely with members of the Lake Quinsigamond Watershed Association who facilitate extensive E. coli monitoring on Lake Quinsigamond’s tributaries and stormwater outfalls. These data are essential to understanding bacteria that can close beaches and make people sick.   

Outreach & Strategic Partnerships

Engaging the Community


Given Worcester’s fantastic aquatic resources, our lakes and ponds naturally have many enthusiastic advocates. L&P aims to engage with everyday users of Worcester’s waterbodies ranging from residents that like to swim at our public beaches to water quality advocates in local lake and watershed associations. Through our outreach activities we strive to understand the concerns of lake users, communicate threats to our ecosystems, partner with community groups to achieve shared goals, foster a new generation of water quality advocates, and share enthusiasm about our resources to promote recreational opportunities. 

Outreach and Strategic Partnerships

Outreach in 2023

 In 2023: 

  • We participated at meetings of the Tatnuck Brook Watershed Association, Lake Quinsigamond Watershed Association, Indian Lake Watershed Association, and Lake Quinsigamond Commission to report on our activities, understand community concerns, and facilitate collaborations.  
  • We worked with student groups from three local universities to facilitate research on our lakes and ponds, with topics including microplastics, aquatic invertebrates, cyanobacteria, science education, and water quality monitoring.  
  • We partnered with the Worcester Jewish Community Center to lead 4 educational programming sessions at their summer camp, investigating aquatic life in a small pond with campers.  
  • We partnered with Mass Audubon to facilitate a kids microscopy activity as part of their Neighborhood Nature series.  
  • We participated in the Aquatic Science Day, hosted by the Tatnuck Brook Watershed Association (TBWA), in which students from Columbus Park School learned about the ecosystem of Coes Reservoir at stations hosted by TBWA, Worcester State University, the City of Worcester, and Mass Department of Conservation and Recreation. 
  • L&P organized the annual Rain Barrel Bulk Distribution Event in which 39 rain barrels were distributed. 
  • The City partnered with MassWildlife to hold our first “Catch and Cook” event at which participants helped stock Bell Pond with rainbow trout and learned how to catch, clean, and cook stocked trout.  

Family stocking trout in lake

Family stocking Coes Pond with Trout at "Catch and Cook" event

Outreach and Strategic Partnerships

Blue Space Minute Videos

The Blue Space Minute video series covers a range of topics on Worcester's lakes and ponds, including:

  • Litter at Bell Pond
  • Why Do Our Beaches Close?
  • Boat Cleaning Stations
  • Indian Lake Alum Dosing Station
  • and more!

Learn more about the health, safety, and beauty of our lakes and ponds in Worcester:

YouTube

How You Can Help

Join the Effort to Protect Our Watersheds


Sign up for the Worcester Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collaborative
Use the Boots and Boats Decontamination Stations
Practice native landscaping to mitigate invasives
Check out the Indian Lake Watershed Association
Visit the Lake Quinsigamond Watershed Association
Explore the Tatnuck Brook Watershed Association