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According to the United States Census Bureau , the city has a total area of 40.2 square miles (104.2 km 2 ), of which 33.1 square miles (85.8 km 2 ) is land and 7.1 square miles (18.4 km 2 ), or 17.68%, is water.
Water power from the Quequechan River and natural granite helped form and shape Fall River into the city it is today. Fall River granite is quarried here. The Quequechan River once flowed through downtown unrestricted, providing water power for the mills and, in the last 1 ⁄ 2 mile (0.8 km) of its length, down a series of eight steep waterfalls falling 128 feet (39 m) into the Taunton River at the head of the deep Mount Hope Bay .
Fall River was the only city on the East Coast of the United States to have had an exposed waterfall in part of its downtown area; it flowed less than 1 ⁄ 2 mile (0.8 km) into a sheltered harbor at the edge of downtown. Fall River has two large lakes (originally one lake) and a large portion of protected woodlands on the eastern part of the city, which is higher in elevation, with the Quequechan River draining out of the ponds and flowing 2.5 miles (4.0 km) through the heart of the city, emptying out an estimated 26 million US gallons (98 × 10 ^ 6 l) per day into the deep Mount Hope Bay/Taunton River estuary in the western part of the city.
The city lies on the eastern border of Mount Hope Bay , which begins at the mouth of the Taunton River starting south from the Charles M. Braga, Jr. Bridge . The greater portion of the city is built on hillsides rising quite abruptly from the water's edge to a height of more than 200 feet (60 m). From the summits of these hills the country extends back in a comparatively level table-land, on which a large section of the city now stands.
Two miles (3 km) eastward from the shore lies a chain of deep and narrow ponds, eight miles (13 km) long (13 km), with an average width of three-quarters of a mile, and covering an area of 3,500 acres (14 km 2 ). These ponds are supplied by springs and brooks, draining a watershed of 20,000 acres (81 km 2 ). The northern pond is the North Watuppa Pond , the city's main reservoir. The southern pond is the South Watuppa Pond . Where the two ponds meet is called the "The Narrows." East of the North Watuppa Pond is the Watuppa Reservation that includes several thousand acres of forest-land for water supply protection that extends north into the Freetown-Fall River State Forest , and east to the Copicut Reservoir. Copicut Pond is located on the border of Dartmouth in North Dartmouth's Hixville section that borders Fall River. Copicut Hill, the highest point in Fall River, is located between North Watuppa Pond and the Copicut Reservoir and has a summit elevation of greater than 404 feet (123 m) above sea level.
The Quequechan River breaks out of its bed in the west part of the South Watuppa Pond, just west of The Narrows, and flows through the city (partially underground in conduits) where it falls to a channel leading to what is now Heritage State Park at Battleship Cove on the Taunton River . The Quequechan River originally flowed unconfined over an almost level course for more than a mile. In the last half-mile (800 m) of its progress it rushes down the hillside in a narrow, precipitous, rocky channel, creating the falls for which Fall River is named. In this distance the total fall is about 132 feet (40 m). and the volume of water 122 cubic feet (3.5 m 3 ) per second.
Originally an attractive feature of the landscape, the Quequechan has seldom been visible since it was covered over by cotton mills and the Bay Colony Railroad line in the 19th century. As the Quequechan became an underground feature of the industrial landscape, it also became a sewer. In the 20th century the mills were abandoned and some of them burned, exposing the falls once more. Because of highway construction in the 1960s, the waterfalls were buried under Interstate 195 , which crosses the Taunton River at Battleship Cove. Plans exist to "daylight" the falls, restore or re-create them, and build a green belt with a bicycle path along the Quequechan River.
In the south end, Cook Pond, also formerly known as Laurel Lake, is located east of the Taunton River and west of the South Watuppa Pond. The area between the modern day Cook and South Watuppa Ponds, east of the Taunton River and north of Tiverton, Rhode Island , was once referred to as "Pocasset Swamp" during King Philip's War in 1675–1676.
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