Your Watershed

Neponset River Watershed offers benefits to residents and visitors alike—from drinking water to parkland, fishing and paddling opportunities, to diverse plants and animals, to a rich history of Native American and Colonial cultures and early industry. Interestingly, the Neponset River Watershed provides these benefits amidst difficulties of its own.

Walter Baker Dam, at Lower Mills, on the Neponset River presents an obstacle to fish migration.

The Walter Baker Dam on the Neponset River, at Lower Mills.

Watershed Issues

The Watershed suffers from contaminants in both river-bottom sediments and the fish that come into contact with them, very low water levels during the summer, obsolescent dams that obstruct fish migrations, high levels of salt from winter road maintenance, filled wetlands, exotic, invasive species, and garbage in our waterways. Before delving into these issues (for more information, click on the links listed elsewhere on this page), let’s examine what it means to be a watershed.

What is a Watershed?

A watershed is the area of land that drains into a body of water, like a river, pond, harbor or lake. A watershed is sometimes referred to as a “river basin,” a “river valley,” or a “drainage basin.”

A watershed might contain a variety of landscapes, ecosystems, and man-made structures. For instance, a watershed could include forests, parking lots, mountains, wetlands, hills, streams, apartment complexes, ponds, cities, lakes, businesses, towns, landfills, state parks, etc. And, watersheds come in all sizes—they may contain multiple towns, just a few houses, or none at all! Watersheds are “communities connected by water.” Everybody in each community is affected by water use and water quality throughout the watershed.

Where is the Neponset River Watershed?

The Neponset River Watershed includes roughly 130 square miles of land southwest of Boston. All of this land drains into the Neponset River, and ultimately into Boston Harbor. The Watershed includes parts of 14 cities and towns: Boston (Hyde Park, Mattapan, and Dorchester), Canton, Dedham, Dover, Foxborough, Medfield, Milton, Norwood, Randolph, Quincy, Sharon, Stoughton, Walpole and Westwood.

  • Roughly 300,000 people live in the watershed.
  • The Neponset River, itself, runs for 30 miles through the middle of the watershed.
  • The River starts in Foxboro, near Gillette Stadium, and ends in Dorchester/Quincy, near the Boston Gas tank by I-93.

Because the Neponset River ultimately flows into Boston Harbor, the Watershed is itself a part of the larger Boston Harbor Watershed, along with the Mystic River Watershed to the north of Boston, the Charles River Watershed to the west of Boston and the Weymouth-Weir River Watershed, which, like the Neponset River Watershed, originates south of Boston.

Neponset Watershed map (click image below, to enlarge):

Neponset River Watershed

Neponset River Watershed