Bringing lots of clean water to Boston whenever you turn on the faucet!


About Aqueducts | Cochituate & Sudbury Aqueducts | Student Project | Vocabulary | Learn More | Teacher Page


When you turn on the faucet, you get as much clean water as you'd like. You never have to think about it. This wasn't always the case.

During the early 1800s, more and more people where moving to Boston and there wasn't enough water for everybody. People collected rain water in barrels where it was stagnant and became unsafe due to disease and mosquito contamination. People got sick from the water and many died. A plentiful clean water supply was needed for the city of Boston.

In 1848 the Cochituate Aqueduct was completed. This aqueduct brought water from Lake Cochituate in Natick to Boston through a big underground pipe. Read all about it here Mass Moments - Opening of Cochituate Aqueduct 1848

Cochituate Reservoir & Aqueduct

Did you know that in the 1800s people in the cities lived to be about 40 years old, but people who lived in towns like Needham (if they survivied childhood, childbirth and accidents) lived to be about 70 years old? The cities were polluted with coal dust, they had poor quality water, poor food supply, and lived close together. Needham had lots of clean water, was a farming community and houses were far apart. Why did these conditions make a difference in people's lives?

Sudbury Aqueduct

Have you ever noticed the the aqueduct that goes through the John Eliot School property? That's the Sudbury Aqueduct.

It carries water from the Sudbury River through Needham and over the Echo Bridge

to the Chestnut Hill Resevoir, by Boston College, and on to Boston.


  • Sudbury Aqueduct - Everything you ever wanted to know!


    The Sudbury Aqueduct
    PDF - This is the Sudbury Aqueduct, an erstwhile major component of the water .... The main conduit of the Sudbury system is our Sudbury Aqueduct. Good map!
    Sudbury Aqueduct

    What is an aqueduct?

    Definition - Greek & Roman

    Definition - Babylon

    About Aqueducts

    Construct an Aqueduct - Great interactive activity!
    How to movie, requires shockwave *

    Today we get our water supply from the MetroWest Water Tunnel

    Facts about the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel



    Go to Mass Moments - Opening of Cochituate Aqueduct 1848
    Click “Discuss this Moment” and post the history of the Sudbury Aqueduct. Include how it passes throught The John Eliot School property.

    • Write a letter to a friend or relative describing what it was like to see the water arrive at Frog Pond. Be sure to include why a clean water supply was important. Include details of how this would change your life (before/after - disease, hygiene
    • Create a map showing the route of the Cochituate or Sudbury Aqueduct.
    • Create a newsletter featuring the opening of the Cochituate Aqueduct. Be sure to include articles about the importance of the aqueduct, how it would improve life for the citizens of Boston and health concerns of the day.
    • Construct a working model of an aqueduct.


    waterborne disease - a disease spread by contaminated water.

    cholera - One of the world's most devastating diseases. Caused by drinking contaminated water . Produces the nausea, diarrhoea and abdominal cramps.

    typhoid - A highly infectious disease caused by drinking contaminated water. Characterized by bad rashes, high fever, bronchitis, and intestinal hemorrhaging.

    aqueduct - Man-made canal or pipeline used to transport water, usually by gravity.

    reservoir - A place where water is stored until it is needed. A reservoir can be an open lake or an enclosed storage tank.

    stagnant - A body of water which is motionless or ceases to flow. Mosquitos, which can transmit infectious diseaases, breed in stagnant water.

    Learn More

    Aqua Duck Water on the Move Thinkquest links to activities and resources.

    Kathleen Martell, Instructional Technology Specialist
    Needham Public Schools, Needham MA
    August 2007