FBI, state police investigate trespassing at Quabbin Reservoir

Last modified: Tuesday, May 21, 2013

BELCHERTOWN — Massachusetts State Police and the FBI are investigating a late-night trespassing incident at the Quabbin Reservoir that has triggered increased patrols at water supply facilities around the state.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority said water quality samples were analyzed at its lab May 14 and all came back normal after the incident.

Seven people who claimed to be recently graduated chemical engineering students — five men and two women — will be summoned to Eastern Hampshire District Court in Belchertown for trespassing at the reservoir at 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. Police declined to release the names of those involved in advance of a court date, but said they reside in Northampton, Sunderland, Amherst, Cambridge and New York City.

They also said a preliminary investigation by authorities suggests the individuals originally are from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Singapore. There was no evidence that the seven individuals were committing any crime beyond trespassing, according to David Procopio, a state police spokesman.

“Further investigation is being undertaken because of the late hour when they were observed, their curious explanation for why they wanted to see the reservoir, and the fact that they were in an area marked no-trespassing,” Procopio said.

A state trooper on patrol observed and then approached two vehicles parked on the grass at the reservoir’s middle entrance May 14 at around 12:30 a.m. He called for backup after observing the seven individuals walking from the reservoir toward the vehicles.

The people told the trooper they were chemical engineers and recent graduates of the University of Massachusetts and Smith College. They said they wanted to see the Quabbin Reservoir, citing their educational and career interests, according to state police.

No warrants, detainers or advisories were found for any of the seven as a result of queries made by police, including through Interpol wanted persons. They also found no items of a criminal nature on them or in the two vehicles, according to state police. The seven were allowed to leave the scene in the vehicles.

State police notified the FBI’s Springfield office, which sent agents to the Belchertown State Police barracks to assist with the investigation. The Commonwealth Fusion Center, which serves as a conduit for multi-agency information and intelligence sharing, also was notified of the incident.

The Quabbin Reservoir is one of the largest man-made public water supplies in the country, covering 39 square miles. The reservoir can hold 412 billion gallons of water when full.

The Water Resources Authority tests the water daily and continuously with a real-time monitoring system for its biological, chemical and physical properties and conducts additional testing for a wider range of potential contaminants when anything unusual occurs.

“Any abnormalities are detected immediately,” the authority said in a statement Wednesday. “There is no evidence of any water quality issues at the Quabbin Reservoir following the trespassing incident.”

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.


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