Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Water: Nonpoint Source Success Stories

Connecticut: Center Springs Pond Restoration Project: Skaters and Fish Return to Pond


Begin Page Links Story 1  |  Story 2  |  State Water Quality Site Exit EPA Disclaimer  End Page Links
Story Separation Bar

 


Contact:
Chuck Lee,
CT DEP Lakes Program
79 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106
860-424-3716
charles.lee@po.state.ct.us
Primary Sources of Pollution:

urban storm water runoff
Primary NPS Pollutants:

sediment

nutrients

trash
Project Activities:

trash rack

sedimentation forebay

dredging of pond
Results:

debris and duckweed blooms eliminated

return of fishery

1,200 cubic yards of sediment removed in 1998

Center Springs Pond is the central feature of a 55-acre urban park in the center of Manchester, Connecticut, in the Hockanum River watershed. Center Springs Park and its pond are valued resources, providing residents with a variety of recreational opportunities. The pond has a surface area of 6.1 acres and is fed by Bigelow Brook. From the late 1920s through the mid-1970s, the pond was a popular site for skating and fishing, attracting people from all parts of Manchester. In addition, during the warm weather people were drawn to the area to enjoy picnic lunches or simply to sit by the pond and enjoy the scenery.

Environmental problems

Bigelow Brook, which feeds Center Springs Pond, runs through a heavily urbanized area. As a result, the brook receives high volumes of storm water runoff. This storm water carries with it pollutants such as sediment (from road sanding and construction activities), nutrients (from atmospheric deposition, septic systems, and lawn fertilizer), and trash (everything from common litter to shopping carts).

The filling of the pond with sediment and nutrients contributed to weed growth and increased water temperatures by allowing sunlight to penetrate to the pond's bottom. The combined effect of the sediments, increased temperature, and die-off of the algae and weeds consumed oxygen and led to low-dissolved-oxygen conditions. These impacts rendered the pond inhospitable to most species of fish and too shallow for ice-skating. The trash, bottles, cans, plastic containers, tires, lumber, logs, shopping carts, and even a doghouse made the park a less appealing place to visit.

The solution

The goals of the Center Springs Pond Restoration Project were to improve water quality in the pond and to reestablish the pond and surrounding area as a focal point for recreational activity in the town of Manchester.

The project's design was based on the recommendations of a diagnostic/feasibility study conducted by the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP) Lakes Management Program on behalf of the Town of Manchester. It included the following components:

  • Installation of a trash rack upstream of the pond. A trash rack collects large debris before items enter the pond. The trash is held in areas easily cleaned by the town maintenance crew.
  • Construction of a sedimentation forebay at the eastern end of the pond. The forebay accumulates sediment entering from Bigelow Brook in a confined area for easy removal. The forebay is separated from the main pond by a gabion wall/weir. The wall/weir directs the flow to the southern end of the forebay and extends the detention time, allowing sediments to settle before water enters the main body of the pond. The town also developed and has implemented a pond maintenance plan, which includes periodic sediment removal.
  • Dredging of the pond. Approximately 25,000 cubic yards of material was removed. The pond was excavated to the bottom of the soft sediment, and the materials were trucked to a landfill. At the landfill, the material was stockpiled, dewatered, and then used as landfill cover.
Project partners and funding

This project was a combined effort by the Town of Manchester, the CT DEP, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and several private consultants and contractors. The total cost of the project was $342,900 (including construction of buildings and other park infrastructure). It was covered by $250,000 from CT DEP special bond act funds authorized by the state's General Assembly, $62,900 from federal Clean Water Act section 319 funds, and $30,000 from Town of Manchester capital improvement funds.

Section 319 funds were dedicated to nonpoint source controls in and around the pond, and other watershed management activities. Nonpoint source controls included the construction of the trash rack and the sedimentation forebay. As a condition of the section 319 grant, CT DEP and EPA required the town to conduct watershed management activities, including a review of street sweeping programs, a public education program (in the form of mailed pamphlets and newspaper articles), and an investigation of high-nutrient-loading areas.

Promising results

The Center Springs Pond Restoration Project was completed in 1995. Since then, there have been many noticeable changes. The most obvious of these is the improved appearance of the pond and the park. Before the restoration project, Center Springs Pond's extensive duckweed growth rendered the pond unattractive for recreation and unsuitable for most fish. Since the project was completed, the duckweed blooms have been eliminated. Floating debris has been brought to an end by the trash rack and watershed management activities. Watershed residents have done their part by responding to public education and helping to reduce the amount of litter and other household and yard pollutants.

Before the project, sedimentation of the pond and winter draw-downs for weed control had reduced the surface area, greatly limiting ice-skating for the past 20 years. Now the pond once again is used for skating. Perhaps the most astonishing change is the return of fishing as a viable recreational opportunity. Before the restoration project, the town's annual fishing derby, which usually attracts 600 to 700 people each spring, was held at other ponds in the region. Since the project was completed, the annual fishing derby has been held at Center Springs Pond, which is stocked with trout and bass.

The Town of Manchester now has a regular maintenance program for the pond and park that includes weekly litter pickup and periodic dredging of the sedimentation forebay. Other amenities have been added since the completion of the restoration project, including a fishing pier/lookout point on the gabion wall and a picnic area.

Future plans

Future plans for Center Spring Pond include regular maintenance of the immediate park grounds. There are also plans to rebuild a picnic pavilion/observation deck over the foundation of the old skating lodge, which burned down. A concrete fishing pier, which is present in addition to the recently added pier, will be "dressed up" to match the décor of the new skating lodge. Also proposed are stone dust trails throughout the park and a picnic pavilion at the top of the sliding hill. It is easy to see that, through the Center Springs Pond Restoration Project, this picturesque place in Manchester has been restored as an important recreational resource for the community.

 


Begin Page Links Story 1  |  Story 2  |  State Water Quality Site Exit EPA Disclaimer End Page Links
Story Separation Bar

Lake Waramaug Watershed Agricultural Waste Management System:
One Farm Can Make a Difference

 


Contact:
Chuck Lee,
CT DEP Lakes Program
79 Elm Street
Hartford, CT 06106
860-424-3716
charles.lee@po.state.ct.us
Primary Sources of Pollution:

agriculture (dairy farm)
Primary NPS Pollutants:

nutrients
Project Activities:

farm waste management (waste collection, storage, and upland spray-irrigation)
Results:

reductions in nutrients (phosphorus) and bacteria, allowing compliance with water quality standards

Lake Waramaug is in the Housatonic River watershed in northwestern Connecticut in the towns of Washington, Warren, and Kent. This deep, 680-acre lake is the scenic center of the area's tourism business and is used for a variety of recreational activities, including boating, fishing, and swimming. Waramaug is the second largest natural lake in the state. The lake's 14.3-square-mile watershed is largely forested, with land use consisting of low-density residential development and several farms. Much of the lake's shorefront is developed with large-lot, single-family homes. Two state parks are located on and near the lake, Lake Waramaug State Park and Mount Bushnell State Park.

Problems caused by overenrichment

Twenty-five years ago, thick mats of algae covered the surface of Lake Waramaug, causing serious concern among property owners and local businesses. Dead fish washed ashore and became food for seagulls, raccoons, and other wildlife. The cause of the problem was overenrichment caused by runoff of phosphorus and other nutrients from farms, lawns, roads, and septic systems. These nutrients are considered a significant nonpoint source problem in the Housatonic River watershed.

The nutrients fed the growth of algae, which turned the lake's surface green every summer. When the algae died and sank to the bottom, the decomposition of the organic material consumed the oxygen that the fish and other aquatic life needed to survive. The algae also prevented sunlight from reaching native aquatic plants, which were both a food source and refuge for aquatic organisms.

By the mid-1990s, many of these problems had been solved through the joint efforts of the three watershed towns, area residents, and state and federal government agencies. However, water quality monitoring in Sucker Brook, which feeds the lake, was still finding elevated levels of nutrients and bacteria. Stream monitoring determined that a single dairy farm was the largest remaining source of nutrients in the watershed. This farm houses 255 cows, heifers, and calves, and the milking room, corn bunker silos, and barnyards are located uphill and adjacent to Sucker Brook. Runoff from the farm, containing high concentrations of nutrients and bacteria, entered the stream, which transported the pollutants to the lake.

Solving the problems

One of the first steps to solving Lake Waramaug's problems was the formation of the Lake Waramaug Task Force in 1975. In 1978 the Task Force, with assistance from federal and state agencies and a private consultant, completed the Lake Waramaug Management Plan, which contained recommendations on how to restore and protect water quality. Major in-lake management projects include a 2.0 million-gallon-per-day "withdrawal-treatment-reinjection system"; two-layer aeration systems that mix the top water with the mid depths of the lake to create a large zone of cold, well-oxygenated water; construction of a channel through the delta formed at the Sucker Brook outlet to direct cold, well-oxygenated stream flow to the oxygen-depleted bottom waters; and several in-stream sediment collection basins. Numerous watershed nonpoint source controls were also established, including streambank and lakeshore erosion stabilization projects, a dairy farm manure storage system, and a vineyard wine waste lagoon.

As described previously, however, one major pollution source remained unchecked. To address this problem, in 1999 the farmer requested technical assistance from the Litchfield County Soil and Water Conservation District and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA's) Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) to plan, design, and build a farm waste management system. The Task Force raised private funds and, through the conservation district, also solicited financial assistance from the towns that border the lake and the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (CT DEP). The CT DEP subsequently applied for and received section 319 funds from EPA. The farmer applied for funds through the USDA Farm Services Agency and the Connecticut Department of Agriculture and a loan from the Lake Waramaug Task Force.

Monitoring results

Water quality monitoring data collected since completion of the project indicate that the waste management system has significantly reduced pollution levels in Sucker Brook and in Lake Waramaug. Nutrient levels (especially phosphorus) in the stream have been drastically reduced. Before the waste management system was constructed, the farm was contributing more than 20 percent of the total phosphorus entering Lake Waramaug. Now, instead of flowing into Sucker Brook and Lake Waramaug, the nutrient-rich runoff from the farm area is collected, stored, and spray-irrigated on farm fields located hundreds of yards from Sucker Brook. This allows the nutrients to become incorporated into the soil, supporting plant growth on the farm rather than algae growth in the lake. Bacteria levels are also lower than before the water management system was installed, allowing the lake to meet state water quality standards for swimming and other primary-contact recreation.

Continuing the success

To ensure the future protection of water quality, the farm waste management system needs to be regularly inspected and maintained. It is expected that the dairy farm (with the assistance of local conservation organizations) will continue to take measures necessary to protect water quality in Sucker Brook and Lake Waramaug by following through with a new operation and maintenance plan established for the farm. The Lake Waramaug Task Force and local health departments will continue to monitor the lake and its feeder streams to determine whether the farm waste management system and other best management practices are working to maintain and improve water quality. As a Task Force member noted in a recent local newspaper article, "This is a success story, but it wouldn't take much to turn it around. There has to be constant monitoring, constant improvement. Everything has to be kept working, brought up to date . . . ." (The New Milford Times, July 21, 2000).

Project Partners and Funding

This project was a combined effort by LCSWCD, CT DEP, USEPA, USDA, Lake Waramaug Task Force, and the dairy farmer. The total cost of the project was $211,864. Funding was provided by the following organizations:

  • $33,000 from an EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 grant awarded by CT DEP
  • $35,000 from the USDA Farm Service Agency (Agricultural Conservation Program)
  • $40,000 from the Connecticut Department of Agriculture
  • $61,864 from the farm through a loan agreement with the Lake Waramaug Task Force
  • $642,000 from the USDA NRCS for in-kind and technical services

 

Story 1  |  Story 2  |  State Water Quality Site Exit EPA Disclaimer


Jump to main content.