The dam at North Hartland Lake in Hartland is located on the Ottauquechee River, 1.5 miles above the confluence of the Ottauquechee and Connecticut Rivers. From White River Junction, the dam is five miles south on U.S. Route 5.
The project provides flood protection to downstream communities on the Connecticut River, including Hartland, Windsor, Weathersfield, Springfield, and Rockingham, and the New Hampshire communities of Plainfield, Cornish, Claremont, Charlestown, and Walpole. In conjunction with other reservoirs in the Connecticut River Basin, North Hartland Lake also reduces the Connecticut River’s flood stages in Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Construction began in June 1958 and was completed in June 1961 at a cost of $7.3 million. The project consists of an earthfill dam with stone slope protection 1,640 feet long and 185 feet high; a 743-foot-long gated concrete horseshoe conduit under the dam with a diameter of 14 feet and four inches; a 2,110-foot-long dike with stone slope protection having a maximum height of 52 feet; a 476-foot-long gated concrete circular conduit under the dike with a diameter of three feet; and an L-shaped spillway cut in rock with a 465-foot-long concrete ogee weir. The weir’s crest elevation is 25.5 feet lower than the top of the dam. Relocations included telephone and power lines and approximately 2.2 miles of highway. The project has prevented $151.6 million in flood damages since it was built (as of September 2011).
North Hartland Lake has a permanent pool of 215 acres with a depth of 35 feet. The flood storage area of the project totals 1,100 acres and extends 5.5 miles upstream through Hartford. The project and associated lands (including Quechee Gorge State Park) cover 1,711 acres. North Hartland Lake can store up to 23.2 billion gallons of water for flood control purposes. This is equivalent to 6.1 inches of water covering its drainage area of 220 square miles.
North Hartland's dam is one of a series of flood control dams on tributaries of the Connecticut River. These dams have prevented hundreds of millions of dollars in flood damage, and protect lives and property in four New England states. The Reservoir Control Center (RCC), located in Concord, Mass., is the "nerve center" for the New England flood control dams such as North Hartland Lake. Using radio and satellite communications, RCC constantly monitors river levels and weather conditions that influence flood control decisions. By monitoring these conditions, RCCcan coordinate the efforts of all the flood control facilities in New England. Corps personnel, in conjunction with RCC, regulate the amount of water released downstream by raising or lowering three gates located in the gatehouse. In times of high water, the gates are lowered in order to hold back the water, only to be released when downstream river conditions begin to recede. While the area's history of severe flooding means a permanent flood control dam is needed here, some years are decidedly drier than others.
There are two hydroelectric power plants within the reservoir area of North Hartland Lake that are owned and operated by private interests, located both up and downstream of the dam at North Hartland Lake.
For more information, or for recreation opportunities, call (802) 295-2855 or visit the website at: http://www.nae.usace.army.mil/Missions/Recreation/NorthHartlandLake.aspx.
- Updated: May 4, 2021