Flood Mitigation Program

Since 1996, the Town of Winchester has experienced devastating flooding along the Aberjona River and its tributaries, which has imperiled public safety, disrupted businesses and schools, and led to significant economic losses totaling more than $25 million. The frequency and severity of flooding along the Aberjona River prompted the Town of Winchester to investigate the causes of the problem and to develop a Flood Mitigation Program to address these issues.

Development of the Program
This program was subject to review under the Massachusetts Environmental Policy Act (MEPA), which concluded on April 2, 2010 with the issuance of the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary’s Certificate on the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR). This approval allowed the town to move into the detailed design and construction phases for the respective projects.

Structural & Non-Structural Solutions
The Program consists of a variety of structural and non-structural solutions intended to reduce the elevation of the 100-year floodplain associated with the Aberjona River. The improvements will also serve to reduce flooding during more frequent storm events, such as the 25 and 50-year events. The primary goal of the Flood Mitigation Program is to improve flooding over existing conditions, thereby reducing the economic losses experienced by businesses, residents, and the town itself.

Flood Mitigation Projects
The approved Flood Mitigation Program consists of 6 projects within the Town of Winchester to improve the conveyance capacity of the Aberjona River. It also requires the completion of the following 3 mitigation projects outside of Winchester to ensure that the program does not negatively impact downstream communities:
  • Improvements to the Mid-Lakes Dam, which is located between the Upper and Lower Mystic Lakes and is owned by the Department of Conservation and Recreation (DCR), completed in spring 2011;
  • Improvements to the Main Street Bridge (Craddock Locks) in Medford; and
  • Improvements to the Scalley Dam at the outlet of Horn Pond in Woburn
Completed Projects
The MEPA certificate requires the in-town projects to be completed generally in sequence from downstream to upstream, with the exception of improvements to the Center Falls Dam (Project 3). This project was previously granted a waiver by MEPA to be constructed independently. The first of two gate valves was installed in 2004 and construction of the second valve was completed in 2013.

Project 2 of the Flood Mitigation Program was also completed in 2013. The project included widening the Aberjona River between Waterfield and Manchester Roads along the Mystic Valley Parkway.  The channel bottom was widened from approximately 20 feet to a width of approximately 35 feet.  Improvements were also made to the Ginn Field playground and adjacent playfields and basketball courts.  

Remaining Projects
The following presents a summary of the remaining flood mitigation projects in sequence from downstream to upstream:
  • Project 4 - Mount Vernon Street bridge improvements
  • Project 6 - Installation of additional culvert in the High School playing field
  • Project 8 - Swanton Street bridge improvements
  • Project 10 - Culvert improvements at the railroad bridge near the Muraco School
  • Downstream mitigation - Craddock Locks in Medford
  • Upstream mitigation - Scalley Dam outlet at Horn Pond in Woburn
The Town has submitted a long-term plan to the Capital Planning Committee to fund the final design and construction for these remaining projects. Funding for any future flood mitigation will need to be approved by Winchester Town Meeting.