NECC Observer

The student news website of Northern Essex Community College, Haverhill and Lawrence, Mass.

Getting to know Kenoza Lake

As students and faculty make their way to the Haverhill campus each day, they’re greeted by the familiar sight of Kenoza Lake glistening in the sun as they drive past Winnikini Park off of Route 110.

While it can become easy to get used to such a beautiful sight, few people know just how central a role Kenoza Lake plays within the city of Haverhill and what problems it faces as the threat of water pollution looms it’s head.

Kenoza Lake serves another purpose beyond the asethetic; for more than a hundred years the lake has also served as a reservoir and one of Haverhill’s main supplies of fresh water. While beautiful, Kenoza Lake’s real contribution is the clean source of drinking water it’s provided over the decades. While the Merrmiack River has been grossly polluted as a result of illegal waste discharage and sewage overflow, Kenoza has remained relatively untouched. Despite this, the long term health and sustainability of the Kenoza Reservoir could pose a major threat in the coming years

The long term safety of the drinking water supply has been a concern in recent decades as well, with some noting the water treatment plant adjacent to the lake is now nearly 40 years old. While it’s inevitable that these facilities must eventually be replaced, the city has given no indication that it plans to make any adjustments to the wastewater treatment plant as of now.

While some might underscore the concern, the safety of Kenoza Lake and Haverhill’s other reservoirs will continue to grow as a topic of concern among residents fearing an unsafe drinking water supply. Although the city has spent a great amount of time attempting to alter it’s sewer system to protect Lake Kenoza, the reservoir can become vulnerable to elevated bacteria levels following bad weather. While these problems have been staved off with the help of dams and barriers so far, it’s possible the same issue could arise again in the future and greatly damage the city’s water supply.

The neglect shown to the neighboring Winnikinni Castle has also helped damage the prestige of Kenoza Lake. The city itself recognized this while attempting to earn a state grant for the renovation of the area. Until significant improvements can be made to the surrounding area, it’s likely the public will continue to ignore the problems posed by Kenoza Lake until its water supply is endangered. While we may not give the attention and care it deserves, Kenoza Lake has played a crucial role over the history of the cities existence. Local John Greenleaf Whittier immortalized it in at the opening of the park on August 31, 1859:

“Kenoza! o’er no sweeter lake
Shall morning break or noon-cloud sail,–
No fairer face than thine shall take
The sunset’s golden veil.G