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The Chestnut Hill Reservoir reactivated May 1 due to the rupture of the primary water main in Boston, and remains as an important emergency backup source of water and recreational site to the community. Marines with 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, Lima Company, from Johnson City, Tenn., volunteered to help clean up the reservation in support of Marine Week Boston May 3.

Photo by Cpl. Samuel A. Nasso

Marines support reservoir cleanup during water emergency

3 May 2010 | Cpl. Samuel A. Nasso

A ruptured water main in the city Saturday evening shutdown all drinking water in the Boston Metropolitan area, causing city officials to reactivate Chestnut Hill Reservoir as an emergency backup supply of water.

Created 140 years ago to supply water to the city, the reservoir was taken offline in the 1970s due to the lack of necessity.

Service members currently in town for Marine Week Boston, were on hand Monday to assist four local organizations who volunteered to get Chestnut Hill back in working order.

“It is the backup water supply, so it is very important that the Marines are here,” said Kevin Hollenbeck, the Department of Conservation and Recreation urban parks west district manager. “By picking up trash, painting benches, removing graffiti and just making the park look better, it leaves a sense of pride for the park. The visual of Marines in uniform cleaning up the park is huge because it says to people walking and driving by that the Marine Corps cares about this park and that it shouldn’t be disrespected.”

Recently redeployed Marines from Johnson City, Tenn., Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines, teamed up with four local volunteer organizations spearheaded by Outdoor Explorations, to clean up the Chestnut Hill Reservation.

“The Marines contributed a lot to this community by cleaning up this park and that means a lot; especially considering the status of Chestnut Hill Reservoir and the water that it’s supplying for the people of Boston,” said Merri Pearson, the director of Outdoor Explorations, a non-profit organization that provides outdoor adventures for people with disabilities.

Apart from providing an emergency backup supply of water, the reservoir is also used as a public park. Various recreational activities including running paths around the reservoir, trails in the tree line, an ice skating rink and a swimming pool are all located on the reservation.

In the 1930s, the Quabbin Reservoir was created to supply more Bostonians with water and now is the primary source of water in Boston. The reservoir holds more than 400 billion gallons of water and supplied more than two million Bostonians with water, according to the Department of Conservation and Recreation official website.

The Marines made their presence felt by proving to other volunteers and citizens of Boston, their hard work and dedication to get the job done.

The four organizations that teamed up with Marines were volunteers from the New England Academy, Minute Man Arc, St. Coletta and Cardinal Cushing School and the New England Center for homeless veterans.

Each organization brought something different to the mix, and all in all made for a good experience for everyone. The diversity of the group allowed the Marines to remain in their comfort zones and do what they were taught to do, to lead.

“Marines are natural leaders, they had the opportunity to come in and lead the other volunteers and because of that we got a lot of work done,” Pearson said.

In April, the town of Brattleboro held a town meeting and a select board of representatives agreed to spend $219,000 to repair the Chestnut Hill Reservoir. 

The Marines were allowed the opportunity to see the park and work hand-to-hand with the community to ultimately make the park a better place.

Cpl Mikel Hensley, Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 24th Marines said, “We want to put the face of the Marine Corps out there, as not only a war fighting and a war winning organization, but a community supported organization so that (the public) can continue to allow us to do what we do.”

Marine Corps News

Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps