By Peter Goldberg, Board Member of the Friends of Prospect Lake
If you live in Egremont, Alford, Great Barrington and Sheffield your life has both a direct and indirect connection with the Prospect Lake Watershed. What is a watershed? Here’s a good, working definition: A watershed describes an area of land that contains a common set of streams and rivers that all drain into a single larger body of water, such as a larger river, a lake or an ocean.
Morning on Propsect Lake with one of our three nesting herons. Photo courtesy of Chris Baral
Prospect Lake, and the watershed that bears its name, is located in Egremont and is an important resource for both residents and visitors of Egremont and the surrounding towns.
Located in the Southeast section of the Green River Watershed, and adjacent to the Karner Brook Watershed, Prospect Lake is part of the, still larger, Housatonic Valley Watershed that
spans 84 towns from the Northwest corner of Massachusetts down to the Long Island Sound in coastal Connecticut.
Prospect Lake’s environmentally sensitive, ecosystem plays a critical role in the ecological balance of the adjoining towns of Egremont, Alford, Sheffield as well as points beyond. At one time, Prospect Lake was referred to as Winchel Lake or Winchel Pond. The lake is classified as a Massachusetts Great Pond, and has been identified as a reservoir, pond and lake by various surveys, agencies and other resources over the years.
From the Prospect Lake Diagnostic/Feasibility Study Egremont, Massachusetts, 1991:
Both the lake and the watershed lie within the greater Housatonic Major River Basin. The lake itself is located at the Southern-most boundary of the Green River Watershed and the Northern border of the Hubbard Brook Watershed and encompasses an area of 812 acres, of which 55 acres are occupied by Prospect Lake. Thus, the land area that contributes surface water and groundwater to Prospect Lake measures approximately 757 acres, which is 13.8 times greater than the area of the pond.
Prospect Lake empties into the Green River, which, ultimately, flows into the Housatonic River which empties into the Atlantic Ocean near Bridgeport, Connecticut. The watershed encompasses an area of 812 acres, of which 55 acres are occupied by Prospect Lake. Thus, the land area that contributes surface water and groundwater to Prospect Lake measures approximately 757 acres, which is 13.8 times greater than the area of the pond.
Prospect Lake receives water from five tributaries. Three small brooks enter from the north and west while two larger tributaries enter Prospect Lake from the south. In addition, a substantial portion of inflow to the pond takes the form of groundwater flow and overland stormflow. Outflow from the pond is eastward, entering into the Green River approximately 1,210 meters (4,000 feet) from the lake.
Housatonic Valley Association:
EPA website, Green River Watershed: https://mywaterway.epa.gov/community/egremont/overview
EPA website, Hubbard Brook Watershed
Greener Pasture website, a historical look at Egremont in 1890: