West Harbor Pond was created in 1880 when a dam was constructed across the mouth of Campbell Cove to create a freshwater pond for the production of natural ice for sale to the large urban centers of the Eastern Seaboard.
Capt. E.D. Haley designed the dam and installed a passive siphon to evacuate sea water trapped behind the dam at the time of construction. This siphon continued to purge sea water that entered the Pond at extreme high tides and by infiltration through the body of the dam. The salt water would, because of its greater density, sink to the pond bottom. Capt. Haley used natural tidal action to power the siphon. As the tide receded on the harbor side of the dam, the siphon –whose intake was nearly at the bottom of the Pond at the 24’ level – would remove the salt-water layer, leaving behind clear, fresh water. We believe there is no other siphon like this in anywhere in Maine.
While ice production ceased in the second decade of the Twentieth Century, the siphon continued to serve the crucial role of protecting the water quality of the Pond, until, after 130 years, it failed in 2008. The West Harbor Pond Watershed Association, which has been monitoring the water quality of the Pond for several years, found that the loss of the siphon has permitted the salt water in the Pond to rise to within 12 feet of the surface, creating a zone of deoxygenated water extending from that level to the bottom of the Pond where fish struggle to survive.
After six years of intensive efforts, the West Harbor Pond Watershed Association was successful in replacing the broken 1880 siphon, which could no longer remove salt water from the bottom of the pond. In the summer of 2018, the WHPWA’s Campaign to Save West Harbor Pond surpassed the goal to raise the necessary funds to build and install a new siphon.