Massachusetts’s Water Quality 2021 – What’s the Top Water Problems in Major Cities of MA

Massachusetts is a small state but represents one of the most densely populated in the entire United States. Simply maintaining the complex water supply systems presents a major challenge for water departments across the state.

Surface and groundwater sources both keep the people of Massachusetts supplied with drinkable water. All of this water is treated with physical methods like filtration and chemically with products like chlorine.

The state of Massachusetts is one of the country’s oldest, featuring a longstanding water system with some antiquated parts. This can lead to a variety of toxins entering the supply.

Most cities in the state have complex water delivery systems with miles of pipes, a multitude of pumps, and long distances from source to treatment. Not surprisingly, these challenges all contribute to the common water problems around the state.

Common Water Problems by City

Even as a smaller state, Massachusetts features many different communities sourcing water from different bodies of water. This leads to each region facing its own issues when it comes to their water supply.


Water Source

Common Problems

Typical Symptoms


Quabbin Reservoir

Wachusett Reservoir

Hard Water

Dry Skin

Stiff, Scratchy Laundry



10 Reservoirs

Hard Water

Heavy Metals

Dry Skin




Hobbs Brook Reservoirs

Stony Brook Reservoir

Fresh Pond Reservoir

Hard Water

Dry Skin

Itchy Skin



Boston is one of the largest cities on the East coast. Two main sources supply all the necessary potable water for the region - the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs. Over 200 million gallons of water leave the reservoirs headed for Boston each day.

Bostonians may not know that their water travels a combined 100 miles to reach them from the two main sources. As it travels through aqueducts, it tends to absorb minerals like calcium.

These minerals lead to a condition called hard water. Some typical signs you may have hard water include dry skin after bathing, itchy scalp, or stiff laundry.

Physical symptoms can be uncomfortable but limescale can appear and buildup in plumbing or appliances that use water. This can cause inefficiency and long-term damage.


To say that Worcester has many water sources would be an understatement. The city uses ten different reservoirs located in the nearby towns of Leicester, Holden, Paxton, Princeton, and Rutland.

Worcester utilizes over 500 miles of pipes and plumbing to get water to its citizens. The water treatment plant makes over 50 million gallons of water per day available. The city of Worcester needs this complex system to service almost 200,000 residents.

As water travels throughout the system, it absorbs minerals and heavy metals. While neither are presented in concentrations considered toxic, they can cause some side effects that are unpleasant and inconvenient.

Heavy metals can lead to discolored water that stains sinks, tubs, and laundry. Hard water can cause buildups in plumbing and appliances, leading to long-term issues with efficiency and overall function.


Cambridge collects its water from four reservoirs located in towns surrounding the area. Upper and Lower Hobbs Brook, Stony Brook, and Fresh Pond reservoirs supply all the fresh, drinkable water the city currently needs.

Residents experience a common problem with their water - it is hard. Hard water develops as water travels over different natural surfaces, collecting and absorbing mineral content along the way.

Hard water is not necessarily dangerous but can lead to some challenges around the home or business where it exists. Limescale is a byproduct of hard water and can cause inconveniences like stains around faucets and in sinks.

Physical symptoms of hard water include dry skin or itchy scalp. Residents who bathe in hard water may notice these issues in varying degrees.

You may also be interested in Best Whole House Water Filters, and Best Whole House Water Softener

Leave a Comment