Springfield Water Works Filters – Westfield MA


NOTE: none of the sources cited actually mentions the WPA…

From the 1840s-1870s, the city of Springfield constructed and utilized an aqueduct system to bring in water from sources to the west of the city. Multiple collection sites, including Ludlow Reservoir, Borden Brook Reservoir, and Cobble Mountain Reservoir, were built prior to 1931 to hydrate the city.

The West Parrish Filters project was constructed from 1939-1940 by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) from an expense of $500,000. The project was designed to improve water supply, water quality, and flood control system for local communities and surrounding areas. The project provided work for about 400 men a year, and these men were mostly from Springfield, Boston, and New York. During construction the workers stayed at camps near the remote work sites about 14 miles from the city of Springfield.

In the system, water is gravity fed from the Cobble Mountain Reservoir through a tunnel spillway to the West Parish site on Granville Road in Westfield, and then eventually flows on to Springfield. The water flows through a series of silica sand, anthracite coal, and charcoal filters on its way to the public. The main function of the site is to process and filter water taken from the Cobble Mountain Dam in Hampden County and allow it to be used for water and sewer functions in the Springfield and Ludlow area. The water system benefits the citizens of Springfield and Ludlow, and the neighboring towns such as Agawam, Westfield, Southwick, Russell, Granville, Blandford, Chicopee, and West Springfield.

The original New Deal era project not only improved the filtration system itself but it also provided many other services. Improvements to the Ludlow and Cobble Mountain Reservoirs were made as well as road construction, swamp drainage, extension of water mains, erosion control, highway beautification, reforestation, clearing of fire lanes, and other watershed improvements. The improvements in these areas provided clean running water to sections of the city that did not have this amenity before.

In 1996, the Springfield Water and Sewer Commission was established. A new building was constructed on Granville Rd. for the employees at the Westfield site. The same water system that was constructed by the WPA is still in use today.

Source notes

McDonough, John J. Works Progress Bulletin. 1938. Internet Archive. (Accessed March 29, 2016).
“Official 2010 Statement.” Springfield Water and Sewer Commission. (Accessed May 8, 2016).
Slate, Ralph. “Springfield’s Little River Water System.” Springfield History. Last modified April, 8.2008. (Accessed May 9, 2016).
“Water Supply Reservoir.” Canary Systems. (Accessed May 7, 2016).
"Water System History and Description." Springfield Water and Sewer Commission. (Accessed April 21, 2016).

Project originally submitted by Greg McMillan on December 20, 2016.

We welcome contributions of additional information on any New Deal project site.


Location Info

1515 Granville Road
Westfield, MA 01085

Coordinates: 42.113069, -72.83536200000003

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