Attached is a map of populations of Large leaf pondweed (Potamogeton amplifolius) and also Filamentous algae found at West Hill Pond during our June 21st, 2018 aquatic plant survey. The below photos show what the filamentous algae looks like. The second photo is particularly bad and is from the spot marked with the “severe filamentous algae” green triangle. It’s also one of the spots where we had relatively high nitrate nitrogen during our seepage survey. We are looking into this spot more carefully now as we’ve found for two years now that it has large filamentous algae covering.

Filamentious algae
more filamentious algae

The map of located aquatic plants can be downloaded [large file .. 5.5mb] at ..

Published in Spring of the year following the testing (year 2017) this report provides insights into the health of West Hill Pond and its watershed.

2017 Report on West Hill Pond [Report Size 3.3mb]


West Hill Pond is the most pristine of all publically accessible lakes in Connecticut. This status is based on excellent water clarity, low nutrient levels, scarcity of aquatic plants, lack of invasive aquatic plants, and well oxygenated waters. In a 1970s study of 70 Connecticut lakes, West Hill Pond was ranked the 5th cleanest of the lakes assessed. By the 1990s, a secondary study of 56 lakes in the state ranked West Hill the cleanest. This change in rank from the 1970s to the 1990s was due to the fact that Bashan, Mashapaug, Highland, and Billings Lakes deteriorated in water quality within just 20 years, and all four of these previously ‘clean’ lakes became infested with invasive aquatic plants. Today, West Hill Pond is one of only two lakes in the state with public boat-ramp access that do not have aquatic invasive species. It is imperative that residents understand that the preservation of this incredible resource is dependent on limiting invasive species colonization, and on enacting science-based lake management practices in the watershed, specifically lakeshore properties.

Update September 25th – We have received a preliminary engineering plan which describes the repairs to the gate house area we have been discussing. The repairs include replacing the gate house with an on-grade solution which will not limit future Perkins road snow plowing activity. Estimates presented for this work generated by our engineering firm agree with the lower side of our own preliminary estimation assuming the towns still help by providing some supplies (sandbags), the machinery and operators as planned. The expected total budget for engineering and repairs remains $80,000 funding for which has been met.

Water level is at the maximum drop expected, about four feet from the mean normal water level. The photos show that it may still be possible to launch hand-carried craft such as kayak or canoe to the water over the ramp. It is unlikley that a trailer launched vessel could be successfully launched.

Work is proceeding on the draft permit plans [4mb] which will serve as the basis for the construction plans when approved.

Please come join us at WHBC for an afternoon of music at the lake, Saturday, Sept. 16 @ 1pm to benefit Give a Dam. Bring your family and friends, a blanket & chairs, a picnic lunch and drinks and just relax to music with the beautiful West Hill Lake as your backdrop!
1:00 The Angel & The Hustler
2:00 Temporary Sanity
3:00 Second Time Around
4:00 West Hill Groove
Rain Date Sunday, Sept. 17 @ 1 pm
Donations go to help restore the dam at West Hill Pond.

West Hill Beach Club - Battle of the Bands

Update March 9th, 2018

Today the last of the time & safety critical work was completed. The new Weir Board is installed, and the walking grates are now covering the spillway “glory hole”. As may of you have commented the dam is impounding water and mother nature has been delivering it in bunches. All is looking well for the summer.

As a number of you have noted there was discussion over the continued blockage of the roadway over the dam. This is only because the work is not yet complete. Barkhamsted Fire & Safety would like to reopen the road as soon as it is all clear from a safety perspective. The dry standpipe is now available for fire department use.

We will have the engineer do the final inspection & report once the snow clears and we can walk around a bit to observe and criticize.

To do:
– Install the wheel, make and install new locking mechanism.
– Decide if it may be appropriate to install a railing? If so; then proceed. For now, I would like to leave it be and wait for public commentary.
– Finish up the vehicle safety concerns with the town and repair the roadway.
– Final masonry touch-up.

Update February 16th, 2018

As promised; the weather held, and the work was done on Wednesday Feb 14. The new stainless steel Trash Grates went up and the gate was reinstalled. The dam is holding water as the gate is closed again. Still some work to do, but the many concerns for lake level this summer should be behind us now. Special thanks to Frank and Dave who went bobbing for the sandbags (which made the coffer dam) in the February waters!

Update December 3rd, 2017

We didn’t make any progress on the Dam through Thanksgiving week (week 3), and work in earnest started again with the concrete team now in week 4. Although it is getting cold we are not too fearful as we can tent and heat the work if the temperature later this week is expected to go much below freezing.
Forming will take most of week 5 and if we are lucky we will pour on this coming Friday morning. The forms will come off green so that edges and angles can be parged smooth. The metal working team is expected at the lake this Wednesday or Thursday to take final measurements for trash rakes and decking. We will try to have them under contract by the end of the week as well.

Update September 25th, 2017

We have received a preliminary engineering plan which describes the repairs to the gate house area we have been discussing. The repairs include replacing the gate house with an on-grade solution which will not limit future Perkins road snow plowing activity. Estimates presented for this work generated by our engineering firm agree with the lower side of our own preliminary estimation assuming the towns still help by providing some supplies (sandbags), the machinery and operators as planned. The expected total budget for engineering and repairs remains $80,000 funding for which has been met. For photos visit the update post at …
Update – September 25th

Update September 13th, 2017

The initial thrust of our West Hill DAM fundraising campaign is winding down. Through the extremely generous and immediate support of individuals and organizations, we have collected approximately $89,000. In addition we have $5,000 in house from the town of New Hartford, and are awaiting a similar amount from the Town of Barkhamsted. Further, the West Hill Lake Shore Property Owner’s Association (WHLSPOA) has contingently pledged $5,000 based on final DAM cost and need.

The West Hill Pond Association (WHPA) has authorized spending up to $35,000 to cover the anticipated engineering expenses. There remain a number of open questions including removal/remediation of a utility pole currently placed in the dam vicinity, insurance related to snow plowing, and approaches to construction which will be worked out with the assistance of the contracted engineering firm. Dealing with these questions is considered business as usual and is expected as part of the process of evaluating the necessary repairs to the dam.


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]

Nutrient Loading

Internal Loading versus External Loading Dilemma
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…)