Welcome to the Millers River Watershed Council!

MRWC has the goal of helping people discover what makes the Millers River and its tributaries a natural treasure, one you can enjoy and help protect. MRWC welcomes your input.river swish

DCR Recreational Advisory: Lake Dennison at Otter River State Forest

The Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR) is cautioning the public of a cyanobacteria bloom that is present in Lake Dennison, which is located at Otter River State Forest in the Town of Winchendon. During a bloom, it is strongly advised that the public should not contact the water. Additionally, pet owners should keep their animals away from the shoreline to prevent them from ingesting the water. The waterbody will be re-tested until cyanobacteria levels are within acceptable limits per Department of Public Health (DPH) regulations. For questions regarding cyanobacteria blooms, please contact the DPH at (617) 624-5757or visit the agency’s algae webpage.

WHEN: Wednesday, June 19, 2019 until further notice


6/1/19 – Due to log jams caused by spring flows, the Upper Millers River Blue Trail (Winchendon to Birch Hill Dam) is not a recommended paddling area for novice paddlers. Experienced paddlers should still be prepared for portaging. MRWC will post updates as soon as conditions change.

2018 MRWC Annual Meeting: Monday December 3rd @ 7 PM, MREC, 100 Main St, Athol.

Featuring: Harry Sharbaugh on the geological history of the Millers River region – “From continental collisions to river pirates”

Dr. Sharbaugh, a retired pathologist and Erving resident, is a long-time student of our regional geology. He has presented on fossils for the Jurassic Road Show, and on Pelham Dome and Connecticut Valley geology.

Members and the public are welcome to join MRWC for its Annual Meeting. A short business meeting will precede the presentation, and light refreshments will be served.


Millers River & Watershed Photo Exhibit moves to Beals Memorial Library, Winchendon: Nov. 13th – Dec. 8th.

The first-ever Millers River & Watershed Photo Exhibit has moved from the Athol Public Library to the Beals Memorial Library, located at  50 Pleasant Street in downtown Winchendon. The Exhibit is viewable through Dec. 8th during the Library’s open hours: M-Th 1-8, Fridays 9-5 and Saturdays 9-1; both the Library and Exhibit are wheelchair-accessible.

MRWC and the Library will host a Public Reception on Wednesday, November 28th, from 6:30-8 pm. The Photo Exhibit features the ribbon winners from the Photo Contest judged by noted nature photographers Paul Rezendes of Athol, Bill Fournier of Gardner and Dale Monette of New Salem. Above: Winter on the Millers, by Sue Simonds – awarded Best In Show.


2018 Adopt a Stream  program gathers useful data on local streams. Volunteers collect water temperatures and pH to help the council observe trends in stream health. MRWC will study data and compare to past results to identify water quality trends of local streams. 2018 data posted under “Resources” 


EPA issues final Small MS4 General Permit to control stormwater statewide.

Following a lawsuit by environmental groups, a long-awaited federal stormwater permit went into effect for MA on July 1. The permit requires municipalities–including Gardner, Winchendon, Templeton, Ashburnham and Westminster in the Millers River watershed–to do more to protect water bodies from polluted storm-water runoff, the state’s top water pollution problem.

Stormwater Runoff

Stormwater Runoff

“This is a major victory for water quality throughout the Commonwealth,” said Julia Blatt, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Rivers Alliance, which led the lawsuit that was joined by the Connecticut River Conservancy and many watershed groups from the eastern half of the state.

For more on the MS4 permit click here. For a link to town-level maps for MS4 communities in MA click here.

2018 Acid Rain Monitoring (ARM) Project results available

Results from the volunteer ARM  project for pH and alkalinity are available here from 138 sites sampled across Massachusetts in April of this year. About a dozen Millers River watershed sites are included. Water bodies are listed alphabetically and the town is identified, so it’s easy to scroll through the list.  ARM is run by UMass’ Water Resources Research Center: their results page includes a link to a searchable database extending back to 1983.

Chair City Profile (Gardner)

Gardner produces only a tiny fraction of the furniture it once did, but central Mass native Tracie Pouliot is helping to keep that vital history alive. Read about the Chair City Community Workshop she created in Gardner, where–with a Mass Humanities grant–she launched the Chair City Oral History Series, a collection of reminiscences collected from former employees of Nichols & Stone.

Just Released – MRPC Summary of Recent Brownfield Site Assessments:

Site assessment work has included Phase I and Phase II Environmental Site Assessments (ESAs) and hazardous building materials surveys (HBMS), with the goal of establishing site environmental conditions before considering redevelopment or reuse. MRWC serves on MRPC’s Brownfields Advisory Group. To view summaries of the five sites located in the Millers River watershed (Winchendon, Gardner, Royalston, Ashburnham), click here.

2017 Annual Meeting: Highlights – Slide Show

For those of you who missed the 2017 Annual Meeting, or who’d like a closer look at MRWC’s activities, here’s director Ivan Ussach’s powerpoint presentation with the highlights from a very productive year. – Slide Show Link

 MRWC Monitoring Map – where we sample! Link

Since 2010, MRWC has monitored over 50 sites across the watershed. Is one near you? Take a look!

Sampling sites list.

MRWC monitoring BUGS out!

Bugs Tell the Story! Aquatic insects are great indicators of stream health. Join a MRWC macro-invertebrate survey to collect these critters, sort them and then identify them.

Volunteers will work in teams to sample several streams in the central and eastern parts of the watershed, as this area is less studied.

So if you are OK with (or love!) bugs and maybe getting a bit wet, join us. To volunteer, contact watershed@millersriver.net




Adopt a Stream! MRWC  volunteers are monitoring water temperature and pH along tributaries and streams across the watershed in 2018 View the watershed stream list to see all the streams in the watershed. For more info contact monitoring coordinator Keith Davies at watershed@millersriver.net.

Athol Wastewater Treatment Plant receives EPA award
The federal EPA has selected Athol’s Wastewater Treatment Plant for a 2016 Regional Wastewater Treatment Plant Excellence Award. The Athol WWTP was recognized by EPA’s New England Office for exceptional operations and maintenance. The plant was one of six facilities in New England acknowledged for exemplary performance during 2016. MRWC offers its congratulations and appreciation to the plant’s crew.

Support MRWC and support our waters!

 2018 fundraising campaign underway!

MRWC continues to be ready for any movements on the withdrawn NED pipeline proposal, while we develop and promote several recreational Blue Trails across the watershed. We are also moving forward on water quality monitoring and working on economic revitalization projects as part of the MRPC’s Brownfields Advisory group… and more!

Please take a moment now to support this work as generously as you can. You can donate online via the website homepage (the upper right “MAKE A DONATION” button) –using PayPal or a credit card; or send a check to MRWC at 100 Main Street, Athol, MA 01331. THANK YOU!


Link to MRWC NED info page – HERE 

NED pipeline project suspended! Opponents remain vigilant!



Cummings paddle stop upstrm2

Become a Blue Trail steward!

Blue Trail happenings: MRWC staff have launched new Blue Trail on the Upper Millers and Otter Rivers

The  map for the Upper Millers/Otter River Blue Trail is available. MRWC welcomes volunteers to help care for these trails.

Wish to help? Contact MRWC.



MRWC serving the River Community!

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There’s more:

Rain Garden Pocket Guide available: published by the Massachusetts Watershed Coalition, this full-color guide is full of photos and illustrations that make building a rain garden simple, fun and affordable.

what is a rain garden?

As a Partner in MWC’s Billion Gallons a Year (BGY) Stormwater Reduction Campaign, MRWC will provide a free copy of the Guide to  watershed residents and businesses, while they last. Please contact MRWC to request a copy of the Guide. A modified pdf version of the Guide is also available for download. Contact us

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Blue Trail The adventures continued in 2014!

Millers River Blue Trail Guide available. MRWC has released the official Millers River Blue Trail guide in (2) versions, a $3 waterproof edition and a complimentary non-waterproof version. A number of local retailers are carrying the waterproof guide while the complimentary copy can be found at the Athol & Orange public libraries.