Lake Development

The Onota Lake watershed is not densely developed. The watershed is rural, primarily forested with a mix of residential uses and agriculture. However, it is important to recognize that the Onota Lake watershed is evolving. There is the potential for change within the watershed over time especially with increased development pressures. Large parcels of land currently forested, operated as farmland, or utilized by campgrounds could potentially become host to a variety of alternative land uses and may ultimately become more densely developed.

Onota Lake’s eutrophication can be attributed to watershed urbanization and subsequent increases in sediment and nutrient loading. The most all-encompassing causes of Onota Lake’s problems are a result of decades-long sediment and nutrient loading. This means that non-point source pollution, including erosion, must be controlled to avoid adding to the problem. It is also important to consider the larger watershed. The impacts from the outflow of Onota Lake to the Housatonic River should be considered. This includes flooding, streambank erosion, and fisheries.

Like any watershed, the Onota Lake watershed is vulnerable to the impacts of the land use patterns. The potential for accelerated sedimentation, the removal of vegetation filters and the increased pollutant loading of waterways that is associated with changing landscapes hold the potential to negatively impact the present, basically good, conditions of Onota Lake.Nonpoint sources of pollution, including sediment and nutrients, should be addressed to prevent the deterioration of present conditions. Future development within the lake’s watershed could substantially accelerate the lake’s eutrophication process so must be a consideration in all future decision-making.

Nonpoint sources of pollution have the potential to have a cumulative impact on water quality over time. Sedimentation and siltation are already believed to be having a negative impact on Onota Lake. Many areas of the lake are reportedly much shallower than they were historically. It has been reported that a delta is forming at the mouth of Parker Brook with a smaller plume forming at the mouth of Blythewood Tributary.Efforts should be made to manage storm water including the implementation of land use regulations and best management practices (BMPs), as is currently being done by the City of Pittsfield.


Fast Facts

Did you know that maximum lake speed is 45 mph?

For more information on Boater Safety see Boater Safety is Everyone’s Responsibility.

Did you know?

LOPA is an organization of volunteers. Our mission is to help the City of Pittsfield keep the lake clean and naturally beautiful for generations to come.

Why do a drawdown of the lake?

Lake drawdown is when the City of Pittsfield reduces the water level in the lake. Reasons: Shoreline erosion, weed management, flooding control.

How can I protect the Lake from Zebra Mussels?

Before launching a boat or kayak wash it thoroughly. Learn more about Zebra Mussels.

What You Can Do

Volunteer Opportunities

Beyond donations, there are many ways you can contribute to the preservation of Onota Lake. Here’s how you can help.


Become A Member

If you enjoy and appreciate Lake Onota, there’s a way you can give back. Becoming a LOPA Member means you support the preservation of this natural splendor.

Start Your Membership

What We Do

Our purpose is to assist the City of Pittsfield on all matters regarding Lake Onota. We’re a volunteer organization, providing education and scientific study to help preserve this beautiful place.

LOPA is the voice of Lake Onota, and our members are dedicated to its preservation and restoration.

Learn More About LOPA



Michael Riordan

Board Members

Lake Onota Preservation Association, Inc.
PO Box 2884
Pittsfield, MA 01202

City of Pittsfield

James McGrath
Park, Open Space, and Natural Resource Program Manager

Office of Community Development
City Hall
70 Allen Street
Pittsfield, MA 01201