West Hill Pond is a natural glacial lake with water level raised by the addition of a dam located at the lake’s north end. The dam raises the lake level about nine feet. So imagine the impact of no dam. Water would retreat to a distance from the current shore virtually inaccessible to existing docks and boat launch ramps. With limited boat access, there would be significant impact to recreation use and property values. In fact, the purchase of dam and water rights back in 1964 was seen as a means of protecting shorefront owners from capricious summer withdrawals impacting lake water level. Before the West Hill Pond Association (WHPA) acquired water rights the water was often drawn down in summer to where one could walk out one hundred and fifty feet or more from shore before encountering water.

The State of CT began a process several years ago of evaluating all dam impounded water bodies in the state of Connecticut for safety and risk impact. West Hill Pond, on account of its dam and spillway structure, and potential zone of inundation (downstream flooding) was deemed to require an enhanced Emergency Action Plan which is an updated and far more extensive version of our existing Emergency Operations Plan developed and certified by Professional Engineers. This was to evaluate to potential zone of inundation and specific properties at risk should there be a catastrophic event. In addition, we were required to complete an engineering evaluation of the dam infrastructure and provide details on the structure itself, and operability during a major (100 year) storm event. It was during this evaluation that we identified repairs and changes the WHPA would like to perform to improve the long term viability of the dam.

Click here for more on the dam history and acquisition of water rights.

Required Repairs

In order to make the identified repairs, the plan is to lower the lake between 3 and 5 feet by October 1, 2017. This compares to a planned 2017 drawdown of 3 feet as defined by the WHPA water level policy. This greater water level drop is also considerably earlier than the typical October water level drop. Stakeholders are advised they should be prepared to remove boats and floating docks by the end of September. With this schedule, work can commence and be completed before the first frost.

Limited Water Access - State Boat Ramp

Repairs to the dam will require lowering the lake water level as much as five feet! Draw-down will start in early September 2017 immediately after Labor Day and is expected to be complete by October 1st, 2017. Trailer access to the ramp should be expected to be extremely limited as early as September 10th. Don’t get caught with your boat in the water and no ability to get it out. We recommend all boats are removed by the weekend after Labor Day – September 10th as the water level may be too low to launch or remove boats after that time.

Repair (and drawdown) Schedule:

August 16, 2017: Formally engaged engineering firm and through them the State DEEP (also the towns through wetlands commissions as a courtesy).
Week after Labor Day: Depending on rain and pond level, start water draw down at approximately 3 inches per day.
September 10, 2017: Recommend all boats and docks are removed.
October 2, 2017: Pond level down approximately 5 feet, would like to start building the sandbag coffer dam, remove gate house and start removal of affected stones on this date, then start repair. We are counting on sandbags, machinery and skilled operator(s) from the towns at this time. West Hill Pond Association has hired a skilled mason team to re-point & re-set the stonework.
Oct 23, 2017: Repairs complete, either as a return to existing or replace gatehouse with an on-grade solution determined by engineering & funding over next few weeks.
Oct 28, 2017: Gate closes and return water level to 3 feet below normal (as usual) until first freeze, then operate dam in its traditional manner.

Expected Costs

Initial cost estimates for the repairs run from $50-$80,000. Both towns that straddle the lake, Barkhamsted and New Hartford, have agreed to provide highway crews and materials for the area surrounding the project and are being cooperative. Unfortunately, no State of Connecticut funding can be expected. Accordingly, the bulk of the financial burden for reconstruction of the dam will be borne by those of us who live on or enjoy the use of our lake. This is why your financial help to repair the dam is essential.

How Can You Help?

Please make a contribution today to preserve our treasured lake. Make your CHECK payable to West Hill Pond Association — which is a Charitable Nonprofit Organization – 501(c)(3) — contributions are tax deductible as per IRS guidelines.

PO Box 1057
New Hartford, CT 06057

OR, you can contribute using your CREDIT CARD, DEBIT CARD, OR PAYPAL ACCOUNT. Go to GoFundMe for West Hill Pond at the link below

By Hillary Kenyon and Dr. George Knoecklein

Full 2016 Report [2 mb]
Web Soil Survey for Septic Systems [926kb]


Essential long-term lake water quality monitoring
 Lake management requires ongoing monthly water quality monitoring for water clarity, nutrient concentrations of at least Top-Middle-Bottom samples, (data shown here indicate more depths are necessary for necessary characterization), dissolved oxygen profiles, temperature profiles, and regular inlet-outlet sample collection and nutrient analysis. Measurements of bottom waters in October and November need to include oxygen demand constituents as well as Redox potential, and pH.
 In order for a volunteer monitoring program to replace professional sampling, volunteers must commit to collecting monthly data from April through November. Weekly clarity readings and dissolved oxygen and temperature profile measurements would further increase the value of the dataset and provide a greater understanding of the internal lake dynamics during the months of October and November. The Internal

Loading versus External Loading Dilemma

 Internal loading of phosphorus is a concern during the observed seasonal anoxic periods. The lake was monitored into October and November for the first time in 2015, and due to a combination of the benthic oxygen demand and the depth of West Hill Pond, anoxia peaks in October. The trend was similar in 2016, which means that the prior years, where summer dissolved oxygen content and bottom phosphorus were measured in August, do not represent the worst case scenario of internal loading. Instead, we now know that the fall season has the potential to load more phosphorus into the hypolimnion (bottom layer) than was previously expected.
 The large hypolimnetic nutrient mass may be blended with upper water when the lake mixes to the bottom in November. Based on lower percent saturation of oxygen in November some amount of oxygen demand is circulated lake-wide at time presumably from entrainment of hypolimnetic waters. At this there, is only partial characterization of the hypolimnetic water beneath the anoxic boundary in October when anoxia is most intense. The lake phosphorus loading model used a common internal release rate of 1mg/m2/day to estimate 60kg/yr TP load. However, that release rate needs to be refined to better reflect West Hill Pond.
 External nutrient load from appears to be different in base-flow vs. stormwater flows. Stormwater flows had lower phosphorus and nitrate than the base-flow values suggesting that largest contribution of water to base-flows of streams is from septic systems. These concentrations appear to be diluted by rainwater, suggesting that stormwater runoff drains minor impervious areas and is collecting only minimal nutrients from these surfaces.
o Continued monitoring of streams during both base-flows and storm events is recommended.
o A perimeter study of seepage water during the fullest extent of winter drawdown is recommended.
o A Very Near Shore Conductivity Sweep during late summer is suggested.

A summer aquatic plant survey was completed by the West Hill Pond Association’s Limnologist in July. We hired an aquatic plant mitigation team which spent 2-1/2 days removing the targeted aquatic plant communities. (more…)

Those of you that follow lake water level management know that this fall/winter (2016/17) is the “big drop” – an extra foot of drop (three feet as opposed to two feet) – which happens just once every five years. There have already been Inland Wetland Commission applications submitted (and approved) for work by homeowners set to be performed this fall. Water level management begins in October with the goal of reaching the full drop by October 15th. (more…)

Mark Your Calendars
Wednesday July 13th, 2016 – 7:00pm

Public Hearing Town of New Hartford

Under Consideration
Amendments to the Zoning Regulations

In 2015 the Town of New Hartford updated its POCD which among many other things included a section recognizing the need to “Protect West Hill Pond.” The Plan set forth several action steps for doing so. Earlier this year the town held an open “Round Table” forum to determine the most urgent item in the POCD. Protecting West Hill Pond came out on top. As a result the town has developed proposed zoning amendments – special protections for the R-4 zone (West Hill Pond watershed) alone – which are to be presented at the July 13th public hearing.


Blue Green Algae (Cyanobacteria) in Our Lakes

A recent article in the Danbury News Times about the issues facing Candlewood Lake from blue-green algae had us thinking about the blue-green algae sampled at West Hill Pond last summer.

Blue green algae – also known as Cyanobacteria – has become a visible concern in recent years to lake managers throughout the world. Cyanobacteria are prokaryotes rich in proteins that obtain their energy via photosynthesis. Their high protein makes them less attractive to the Zooplankton grazers found in freshwater lakes that prefer the cellulose rich phytoplankton (Eukaryotes). This lack of predation on Cyanobacteria gives it a selective advantage over other phytoplankton. Today, Cyanobacteria grabs headlines not because of its creating life-enabling oxygen, but for its more insidious side. Certain Cyanobacteria are the source of cyanotoxins implicated in neurodegenerative diseases such as Lou Gehrig’s, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Cyanotoxins are a much broader category than just neurotoxins, and include hepatotoxins, endotoxins and cytotoxins as well. Managing the lake to limit the possibilities for large Cyanobacteria blooms is one of our highest priorities. (more…)

West Hill Pond Annual Report 2015

by George Knoecklein, PhD

West Hill Pond is the most pristine of all Connecticut lakes with public access. This rank is based on excellent water clarity, low nutrient level, scarcity of aquatic plants, lack of invasive aquatic plants, and well oxygenated waters. It was ranked the 5th cleanest of 70 Connecticut lakes assessed in the 1970’s, and the cleanest of 56 Connecticut lakes in the 1990’s. (more…)

Northwest Conservation District’s Earth Day Plant Sale

It’s that time of year. As we emerge from winter everyone is thinking about chores and projects to improve their property. And if you are thinking about your landscape, know that the Northwest Conservation District is again holding their annual native plant sale. The District’s Earth Day plant sale makes available a wide variety of native shrubs, fruit trees, berry laden shrubs and ground-cover and evergreens. You can order in advance online, then pickup your order at the Goshen Fairground on April 22nd, 23rd, or 24th. To order online visit the Conservation District’s web-site at (more…)

CT Scientists Discover New Algae

CT Scientists have discovered a new algae – Didymosphenia hullii – in the Farmington River in Barkhamsted. Known by it’s common name “rock snot,” the algae is described as not something desireable for your freshwater lake or stream. (more…)

Letter to West Hill Pond Association

June 19, 2013

George W. Knoecklein, Ph.D.
74 Higgins Highway
Mansfield Center, CT 06250
860 – 456 – 3179

To the West Hill Pond Association:

Your lake is probably one of the cleanest in CT. The typical summer water clarity is excellent. There are not many that I know of that rival the conditions of West Hill Pond.

However, very clean lakes are the most vulnerable to changes, they can only get worse they don’t get better. (more…)