The Ipswich River is a small coastal plain river that flows 45 miles from the source to the sea, located in northeastern Massachusetts. The Ipswich River watershed houses 150,000 residents, while providing drinking water for more than 300,000 people inside, and out, of the watershed. The watershed covers a 155 square mile area, covering twenty-one towns. This river supports a diverse amount of aquatic anadromous species (Shad, Salmon, ect.) who move from the oceans to fresh water to breed. The Ipswich River also is part of the Great Marsh ecosystem, the river is also home to the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary, as well as many other forests, public spaces, and other ecological reserves. The vibrant ecosystem was preserved during years because the Ipswich River experienced less development and industrialization compared to the other rivers in the area. With the river having less pollution and a healthy ecosystem, the river became a large source of drinking water.
The 45-mile Ipswich River flows northeast of Boston in Massachusetts’ North Shore, draining an area of small towns, developing suburbs, and rural landscapes. Since the region has experienced less development and industrialization compared to its neighbors, the Ipswich River has relatively low pollution levels and is an important source of drinking water for over 300,000 people in twenty-one communities. This watershed is part of the Great Marsh ecosystem that helps support breeding migratory fish, like shad and salmon, and is home to variety of public open spaces and ecological reserves.
In the 1990s and early 2000s, the river ran dry several times, which such a large disturbance to the ecosystem the Department of Environmental Protection implemented outdoor water use restrictions during the summer months. These restrictions have improved the flows in the river, but with recent weather patterns, there has been more uncertainty towards the health of the river. Other water conservation methods like limiting the amount of groundwater that can be withdrawn by wells and adopting low impact development strategies can further preserve the Ipswich Rivers flow.