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.
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.
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