West Lake gets its fill

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WEST DOVER — Resort officials at Mount Snow say the new snowmaking system is the biggest in the East.

"Snowmaking is all about how much you can get uphill," said Jamie Storrs, communications manager at Mount Snow, during a tour of West Lake on Wednesday.

The snowmaking pond in Wilmington is about 4 miles away from the West Dover ski resort. With the new infrastructure, Mount Snow expects to have two to three times as many trails open during the early ski season and the ability to recover much faster after a melt. Benefits from the project should be seen this coming winter.

Construction of the new snowmaking

system cost $30 million. The resort secured $52 million in EB-5 funding, which allows foreign investors to put up money in exchange for United States residency. The remaining funds are being used to build a new lodge at Carinthia, the all terrain-park face of Mount Snow. That's expected to be completed by the 2018-19 season.

The massive snowmaking pond brings massive improvements to the system.

West Lake will eventually hold 120 million gallons of water, Storrs said. Starting last week, the pond has been getting filled with water from the resort's existing man-made snowmaking pond, Snow Lake, which could only hold 20 million gallons.

An inflatable dam system will later be used to take water from Cold Brook, and then Snow Lake will be turned back into streams and a meadow.

"We've increased storage sixfold," Storrs said before noting that a third of the water in West Lake, or 40 million gallons, had come via snow melt and rain this summer.

In the past, the resort would have to shut down snowmaking when water ran out. That will no longer be much of a concern. A spillway has been built in case the pond ever fills, Storrs said.

Three pumphouses and new pipelines were also part of the project. The pipes can now carry 11,800 gallons of water, according to Storrs. Previously, the pipes could only support 6,000 gallons.

The water will go to the Paul Roy Pumphouse on the mountain. Roy was a former mountain manager who long dreamed of finding another water source for snowmaking, according to Storrs.

"After years of planning and permitting, our team was able to make it happen," Storrs said. "We're psyched to have this. This is a total game changer for us."

People had spent decades looking for water sources, Storrs said. At one point, Somerset Reservoir and Lake Whitingham were looked at as potential sources.

Storrs said some reclamation of the area by West Lake will bring meadows and streams back to the area. Prior to Mount Snow, the property was used as a gravel pit.

"We capped everything with topsoil," Storrs said, with the goal of improving aesthetics and erosion control.

West Lake will not be open for recreation.

Reach staff writer Chris Mays at 802-254-2311, ext. 273, or @CMaysBR.

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