In 2003 the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority began developing plans to convert the eastern half of the Blue Hills Reservoir into two 10 million gallon buried drinking water storage tanks. The reservoir, built in the 1950’s had been inactive as a public drinking water source since 1981, but served as a protected wetlands area in the reservation along scenic Chickatawbut Road. The 16 acre reservoir was home to at least five species of native fish, and served as a vital wetlands ecosystem in the Blue Hills Reservation.
Friends of the Blue Hills, with the help of local legislators and citizens, advocated against the project because it violated the state’s Wetland Protection Act. Under the act, the MWRA should have been required to provide mitigation sites as part of the “no net loss” wetlands policy, which they did not. However in an unprecedented exemption to the legislation, the Department of Environmental Protection decided that none of the 8.7 acres of open water habitat would be replaced. The project, which was completed in 2009 at a cost of $38 million resulted in the largest net loss of wetlands by a public works project in over 20 years.