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Subbasins - Fall Brook
Geographic & Ecosystem Characteristics | Land Ownership & Land Use Patterns
Major Water Resource Issues | Recreation & Priority Habitat Areas
Resource Protection Goals & Recommended Actions

Land Area: 7.2 square miles
Primary Municipalities: Leominster
Permanently Protected Land Area: 545 acres or 14%
Limited Protection Land Area (Chap. 61, etc.): 104 acres
River length: 4.7 miles
Most threatened waterbodies: Barrett Pond

% Imperviousness: approximately 20%
Land Use: 47% forest, 26% residential, 11% ag/open
# of MA NHESP* Priority Areas: 2
# of NPDES* permits: 0
Reservoirs: Fall Brook

Location within the Nashua River Watershed Water Resources Habitat Analysis
Open Space Water Resources Natural Heritage
Limited Protection Water Resources Recreation

Geographic Overview and Ecosystem Characteristics: This subbasin1 is completely within the City of Leominster. Located in the Southern New England Coastal Plains ecoregion2 of central Massachusetts, this area drains easterly into the North Nashua River downstream of the West Fitchburg Wastewater Treatment Facility and just upstream of the USGS gauging station. Streamflow, as in most of New England, has significant seasonal changes3. This subbasin begins at higher elevations along the ridgeline above the Grandview Country Club between Long, Bayberry and Rocky Hills. Routes 12 and117 pass through this subbasin.

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Land Ownership and Land Use4 Patterns: The land-use pattern is 47% forest (hardwood mixed with softwood) or wetland. This is one of the lowest percentages of forestland in the entire Nashua River watershed yet understandable given its immediate proximity to downtown urban Leominster. High-density residential settlement as well as suburban subdivisions and strip development throughout the subbasin account for a total of 26% residential. 11% of the total area is open land. Commercial operations, industry and other developed land uses are numerous.

As for permanently protected open space, a portion of this subbasin is owned by the City of Leominster as designated municipal water supply lands — Fall Brook Reservoir and Morse Reservoir and as city parks such as Barrett Pond. The area around the mouth of Fall Brook is Department of Environmental Management's Johnny Appleseed State Park. Lincoln Woods is a small Massachusetts Audubon Society holding in this subbasin.

A rather high percentage (20.1%) of total impervious surfaces5 — namely, paved areas such as streets, driveways, and parking lots — for this subbasin indicates that issues of compromised stormwater and other non-point sources of contaminants (for example: pesticides, fertilizers, oils, asphalt, pet wastes, salt, sediment, litter and other debris) are a pressing concern.

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Major Water Resource Issues: There is a medium-yield aquifer underlying the northern divide of this subbasin as well as a smaller one underlying Lake Samoset. Major waterbodies in this subbasin include: Fall Brook Reservoir, Lake Samoset, and Barrett Pond. The latter two contain noxious and non-native plants. Fall Brook proper is classified as a Class B waterbody. In this subbasin there are no wastewater treatment facilities, no water withdrawal permitees, and no NPDES* permitee.

Based on recent findings in an Hydrologic Analysis (inflow/outflow) by Camp, Dresser, Mckee, under contract with EOEA for the Massachusetts Watershed Initiative Nashua Team, the Fall Brook sub-basin is currently under a medium level of stress. Looking ahead to the year 2020, Fall Brook remains under a medium level of stress. This means that the net 7Q10 outflow from the sub-basin equals or exceeds the estimated natural 7Q10. 7Q10 is the lowest consecutive 7 day streamflow that is likely to occur in a ten year period in a particular river segment.

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Recreation and Priority Habitat Areas: Barrett Pond (a.k.a. Chestnut Street Pond) had been a popular local recreation destination when the pond was a viable public swimming facility. Conditions at Barrett Pond have deteriorated dramatically — due to uncontrolled vegetative growth, excessive sedimentation, high turbidity and algae blooms — and safety is a major issue. There are two state-designated Natural Heritage and Endangered Species Project (MA NHESP) Rare Wetlands Priority Habitat area: one of which includes Lake Samoset. The one core area identified in the Nashua River Habitat Assessment Report (MAS, 2000), which encompasses the western part of this subbasin, is the Notown Reservoir area. The western most ridge consisting of Long, Bayberry and Rocky Hills provides an upland connection to the south and thus should be considered a recommended priority area for land conservation.

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Resource Protection Goals and Recommended Actions

GOAL: Protect wildlife habitat and migration corridors in the subbasin.

  • Land protection efforts to focus on undeveloped eastern shoreline on Fall Brook Reservoir and parcels by Lake Samoset.
  • Sponsor local events to raise public understanding about native wildlife and the impacts of development patterns on ecosystem and habitat integrity.
  • Work with local conservation commissions to gain their backing of natural resource and habitat inventories.

GOAL: Protect high-priority open space, vistas, and community character in the subbasin.

  • Encourage the use of MA Executive Order 418* funding for Open Space and Resource Protection Plans for each Massachusetts community in the Fall Brook subbasin.
  • Conduct public education sessions to promote local passage of Community Preservation Act*.
  • Work toward ideal of at least 25-50% protected open space in each municipality by supporting the City of Leominster's stated intention of protecting further watershed properties. Encourage more collaborative open space conservation projects between the City, the State, The Trustees of Reservations, the Leominster Land Trust, and the public (i.e.: Sholan Farm).
  • Work with municipal officials to develop subdivision standards that require proponents to devote at least 50% of land (not including already undevelopable wet or steep land) for open space conservation and encourage mixed-use development and cluster zoning by-right bylaws.

GOAL: Increase recreational opportunities throughout the subbasin.

  • Support City of Leominster's proposal to restore Barrett Pond Park and its watershed.
  • Improve canoeing, fishing, and swimming opportunities by removing weeds from water bodies.
  • Educate the public and municipal departments (especially Public Works Depts) on efforts relating to invasive species identification and removal.

GOAL: Improve water quality in the subbasin.

  • Assist Leominster with its Clean Water Act-mandated MS-4 Phase II Stormwater requirements* This municipality will be required to obtain permits to reduce impacts to the receiving streams through the development of Best Management Practices (BMPs)*, elimination of cross-connections and significant public education. CSO controls and the development of a long-range control plan will be required.
  • Help develop and disseminate Best Management Practices for small-scale, hobby type agricultural operations.
  • Survey invasive plant infestation and conduct spot treatment to control spread on Lake Samoset and Barrett Pond. Also, conduct assessment of 303d list status for Barrett Pond.
  • Inventory, monitor and improve stormwater drainage structures.
  • Identify underground storage tanks (USTs) and work to have them removed.

GOAL: Reduce negative effects of development in this subbasin.

  • Review the turf maintenance practices of the area golf courses up gradient of Fall Brook Reservoir to determine potential non-point source pollution from fertilizer use.
  • Help local volunteer board members responsible for development and land-use rulemaking and enforcement get technical assistance and information regarding techniques to control/guide land use and development balanced with adequate resource protection (e.g., Citizens Planner Training Collaborative6 workshop offerings).
  • Increase or establish staff hours of municipal conservation agents to more effectively monitor construction sites runoff and assist with the preparation of bylaws such as erosion-sedimentation controls.

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* See glossary.

1 For this Plan, subbasins were delineated and analyzed using USGS defined boundaries which sometimes are truncated at the gaging station and may not appear to be consistent with topographically determined drainage areas.

2 The Southern New England Coastal Plains and Hills ecoregion is an area with generally similar soils, vegetation, shape of the land, and especially, cool climate and bedrock geology (glacial tills and outwash deposits). The Commonwealth of Massachusetts considers this physiographic region the "Central Upland" region.

3 Corresponding to seasonal stream flow changes are notable spikes in bacteria levels during summer and fall. Seasonal cycles of high bacteria concentrations may be attributed to decreased dilution during summer months, when tributary flows are lowest. (Wachusett Reservoir Watershed Protection Plan Update 1998, pp. 2-29)

4 "Land Use" description at

5 According to the Center for Watershed Protection's Rapid Watershed Assessment Handbook protocol, an area with less than 10% (8 - 12%) impervious surfaces is considered "partially threatened"; less than 8% is considered "sensitive" or what one would say is a relatively pristine environment;" 12 - 20% is considered "threatened"; and more than 20% is considered "non-supporting" or urbanized. The figures cited in the narrative are based on NRW Estimated Impervious Cover by Sub-basin based on '85/'92 Land Use: MDC '98 Methods Estimate by Bruce Bayne and Jo Anne Carr of the EOEA Nashua River Watershed Team.

6 Citizens Planner Training Collaborative (CPTC)


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