WEST HARBOR POND NEWS
West Harbor Pond Siphon Resumes Operation
When the new West Harbor Pond siphon began operating in early March, drawing water from the bottom of the Pond and expelling it into the Harbor, there was an odor of hydrogen sulfide in the immediate vicinity of the siphon outfall. In mid-April, the West Harbor Pond Watershed Association (WHPWA) and the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club agreed that the WHPWA would turn off the siphon on May 24th and leave it turned off until at least mid-August in order to strike a balance between the need to restore the water quality of the Pond and the recreational activities in the inner harbor during the summer season.
The Oak Grove Condominium Association (OGCA) contacted the WHPWA and the
Maine Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in May, alleging that the water
discharged by the siphon violated Maine’s clean water statutes and making two principal demands: 1) that the siphon remain shut down until the Town and the WHPWA could demonstrate “via laboratory testing” that the water discharged by the siphon no longer had any of the characteristics complained of by the OGCA, and 2) that the Town and the WHPWA reimburse the OGCA a substantial sum for its water testing and its legal fees. See the Boothbay Register article of July 31, 2019 and letter to the editor of August 26, 2019.
On October 1, the DEP convened a meeting of the interested parties to examine the
situation. In the meeting, the DEP promised to review the water quality data collected by the OGCA and the WHPWA and to decide whether the siphon could resume operations and, if so, under what conditions. The WHPWA promised to keep the siphon shut off until DEP issued its decision. After modeling the data, the DEP determined that no license is required in order for the siphon to operate. It ruled that the siphon could run year-round, but specified that between April 15th and October 15th it must operate at a reduced flow of 325 gallons per minute. For the remainder of the year, it can operate at its full flow rate of 400 gallons per minute.
Last month, the WHPWA wrote to the OGCA proposing that the siphon operate without
objection from the OGCA from the present through May 15, 2020 and again from October 15, 2020 through May 15, 2021. According to the WHPWA’s calculations, running the siphon during these two winter seasons should be ample time to remove all the heavily hydrogen sulfide-laden water from the Pond above the 25 ft. depth and to restore the Pond to the balance it enjoyed before the original (over 100-year-old) siphon failed in 2008. Prior to that time, the siphon continuously evacuated the salt water from the bottom of the Pond before the hydrogen sulfide concentration reached the point where the siphon discharge produced an odor. The WHPWA also explained that if the hydrogen sulfide-laden water is not removed from the Pond, it will continue to accumulate, eventually reaching the point where the odor of hydrogen sulfide becomes pervasive at the Pond's surface, affecting the entire area, including the residents of the Oak Grove Condominiums, located directly across the causeway.
In sending its proposal to the OGCA, the WHPWA made clear that with or without an
agreement, the WHPWA would need to turn the siphon back on by December 2nd in order to ensure that the siphon did not freeze and suffer damage. Last week, the OGCA rejected the WHPWA’s proposal, demanding instead that the siphon, which now extends just over 100’ into the inner harbor, be extended an additional 1,200’ at the WHPWA and the Town’s expense. It also demanded that DEP prohibit the siphon from resuming operations until that happens.
Having a letter from the DEP stating that from their point of view the siphon could be operated (within the limits mentioned above), lacking any agreement or meaningful proposal for resolution from the OGCA, and concerned about the potential of freezing damage to the siphon equipment, the WHPWA Board of Directors last week voted to restore the operation of the siphon on Monday, December 2nd . The Board of Directors remains hopeful that it can reach an amicable agreement with the OGCA that will permit the longer-term restoration of the Pond’s water quality without interfering with the recreational use of the inner Harbor during the summer and early fall.
Boothbay Register Articles:
Group rallies to save West Harbor Pond (8/17/16)
West Harbor Pond siphon examined underwater (10/14/17)
WHPWA kicks off fundraising campaign (6/29/18)
Save West Harbor Pond (7/25/18)
Thanks from the WHPWA (9/25/18)
It takes a village (12/31/18)
West Harbor Pond siphon in jeopardy (7/31/19)
The 1880 siphon that finally gave out
Site preparation to install manhole cylinder that will house the siphon controls
Lowering manhole cylinder into position
Cylinder, pond-side, with controls in place
Working in frigid water, attaching 300 lb. weights to hold the pipes down
Laying siphon pipe, harbor-side (above) and pond-side (below).
Our full Photo Journal with narrative explains why this harbor view was an especially beautiful sight for all involved in the siphon project !
Photo credits: Merritt R. Blakeslee
Campaign to Save West Harbor Pond Surpasses Goal
Raising over $58,000 in three months, the West Harbor Pond Watershed Association has successfully reached and exceeded its $53,000 fundraising goal for the Campaign to Save West Harbor Pond. More than 105 contributors from throughout the Boothbay region and beyond participated in the Campaign, which began in mid-June and ended on September 15, 2018.
The Campaign funds were used to install the new siphon system, replacing the broken 1880 siphon that no longer removes the salt water that enters the Pond; to procure liability insurance; and to establish a reserve fund for maintenance, repairs, and unforeseen contingencies. To help ensure that the new siphon achieves its intended objective, remaining funds will be used for additional measures as needed to maintain the water quality of West Harbor Pond into the future.
The WHPWA wishes to acknowledge and thank the many members and supporters, whose generosity has enabled us to install the new siphon and maintain the health of the Pond in the years to come.
Watershed Survey Report Now Available
The WHPWA conducted a Watershed Survey on June 6, 2018 in partnership with the Boothbay Region Water District, Knox-Lincoln Soil and Water Conservation District, Boothbay Region Land Trust, Boothbay Harbor Sewer District, Lake Stewards of Maine (formerly Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program), the Town of Boothbay Harbor and Maine DEP.
After many months of analyzing data and photographs collected during the watershed survey, the WHP Watershed Survey Report is complete.
The primary goals of the 2018 West Harbor Pond Watershed Survey were to:
Identify existing sources of soil erosion sites in the West Harbor Pond Watershed
Raise public awareness about the connection between land use and water quality, and the impact of soil erosion on West Harbor Pond
Inspire people to become active watershed stewards
Make general recommendations to landowners for fixing erosion problems on their properties
Volunteers and technical leaders identified 20 erosion sites in the West Harbor Pond watershed that are currently impacting or have the potential to impact water quality in West Harbor Pond. Surveyors documented the type, size and severity of each erosion site.
The Watershed Survey Report summarizes the findings of the survey and offers information and recommendations that all watershed property owners should find useful in helping to improve the water quality of West Harbor Pond.
The WHPWA gratefully acknowledges the financial assistance received through a generous grant from Lake Stewards of Maine (formerly Maine Volunteer Lake Monitoring Program).
2020 Moonlight Paddle dates will be posted in Spring**
Moonlight Paddles are organized monthly, weather permitting, on or near the night of the full moon, from May through October.
Plan to attend one or all of these lovely evenings on the water for a tranquil experience that only West Harbor Pond can offer. We meet in the center of the pond, near the water-station buoy. After a leisurely paddle down to the dam we head back to the best viewing spot – near the islands – where we can watch the moon come up over the resort. The more boats the merrier – invite neighbors, friends and family. Bug spray and a flashlight are recommended!
Upcoming moonlight paddle dates for 2020 season will be posted in the spring.
**This is a weather dependent activity. In case of wind, rain or clouds we'll have to cancel or postpone. Check your email (members), the West Harbor Pond Facebook page, or this page for the specific details each month. A cancellation will be called by 5:00pm on the day of the event if necessary.
© 2017 by West Harbor Pond Watershed Association.