Canaan Lake Association

The Lake


Canaan Street Lake has a surface area of about 300 acres. It is a shallow lake with an average depth of 10 feet, is about 20 feet at its deepest, and is largely spring fed. It is a part of the Mascoma Valley watershed, with an outflow through a small dam on the Northwest cove to a brook that flows into the Mascoma River. Canaan Street Lake is a rock basin lake which was scoured by an advancing ice sheet during the last ice age. The Lake has a sandy bottom and some glacially deposited rocks. The earliest known name for this waterbody was Hart’s Pond (or, Hart Pond) which was used from colonial times until after the railroad arrived in the mid19th century. Sometime after that the name of the lake was changed to Crystal Lake, probably to boost marketing for several hotels operating nearby. (In 1878 a hotel near the meetinghouse was renamed The Crystal Lake House.) The lake name was changed by the State in 1940 to Canaan Street Lake, but the water is still crystal clear!

topographic map of lake


Town water supply
Canaan Street Lake is a water source to the Village of Canaan. The reservoir for the town water supply is located at the Southeast end of the lake. This is a significant town resource and should this water become unavailable, the required drilled wells would be very expensive.
No entry in any season, including boating or swimming is allowed in the Public Water Supply by NH State Law. In the summer, the reservoir is marked by buoys. Permanent signs are also posted on the shoreline.

Canaan Street Lake is a significant recreational resource for boating, fishing, swimming and other water sports in the summer, and skating, ice fishing, skiing and snowmobiling in the winter. The Lake has a public beach and boat ramp that is very busy, especially on summer weekends.

Risks to the Lake

One of the largest threats to both drinking water and recreation is phosphorous contamination. Sources of phosphorus are fertilizer, septic systems, animal feces (including waterfowl), stormwater runoff, lake sediments, lawns, and decaying plant matter. Too much phosphorous leads to murky water and aggressive plant growth. It can cause blooms of toxic cyanobacteria, commonly called blue-green algae, which could close the village water supply and prohibit swimming. Phosphorous contamination generally does not diminish over time - it accumulates, resulting in higher levels of saturation in the lake.

There are many things that landowners can do to minimize phosphorous input to the lake including good septic design, proper septic system maintenance, zero phosphorous fertilizer, native shrubs planted between lawn and lake, and stormwater runoff control. Good sources of information, including many do-it-yourself projects, include NH Lakes LAKESMART Program ( and the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) SOAK UP THE RAIN PROGRAM (

E. Coli Bacteria Contamination
In recent years, the public beach has been closed to swimmers on a few occasions due to levels of E. Coli above the New Hampshire guideline, as measured by NH DES. Sources of E. Coli bacteria include septic systems, high number of simultaneous bathers, animal feces (including waterfowl), and stormwater runoff.

Levels of E. Coli in the Lake can be minimized with baby swim diapers, good septic design, proper septic system maintenance, stormwater runoff control, and by not feeding waterfowl.

don't feed the ducks sign

Invasive weeds
The greatest threat to lake recreation is invasive aquatic weeds, especially milfoil. Invasive weeds are transported between water bodies on boats and equipment, moving from infected water bodies to those that are not yet infected. The nearest milfoil infestations are Mascoma Lake in Enfield, Post Pond in Lyme and The Connecticut River. Should Milfoil become established in our lake, control would be very expensive; and, once introduced, Milfoil is rarely eradicated from an infested water body. Swimming, fishing, and boating can become unpleasant and potentially impossible. It is ILLEGAL to transport and introduce aquatic invasive species in New Hampshire. Violators are subject to fines. (NH RSA 487:16-c – Transport of Aquatic Plants or Exotic Aquatic Weeds on Outside of Boats, vehicles and Equipment).

The Canaan Lake Association participates in two New Hampshire programs to mitigate the risk of an infestation of invasive weeds—The Lake Host Program and the Weed Watching Program.

The Lake Host Program strives to prevent transport of invasive species through free boat inspections at launch ramps, and by educating the public. Two volunteer Program Managers oversee the efforts of numerous volunteers and paid employees in this program.

The Weed Watching Program coordinates monthly surveillance patrols of the entire lake by numerous volunteers whose mission is early identification and reporting of possible infestation by invasive species.

milfoil image
Milfoil infested water body


Specific actions to take are:

Clean Remove all mud, plants, animals, and debris from your boat, trailer, and equipment. Clean anchors and anchor lines, water intake grates, kayak and canoe cockpits, storage compartments, and paddles. Dispose of all material away from the waterbody where it will not wash back into the water.

Drain State law requires the draining of boats and other water-related equipment after coming out of the water, and leaving plugs and other draining devices open during transport (NH RSA 487:16-d – Draining of Water Conveyances).
After boating, drain water from the boat, including the bilge, live wells, bait buckets, ballast tanks, storage compartments and gear, etc. Do this away from the water’s edge so runoff does not go back into the lake.

Dry Be sure to thoroughly dry anything that contacted lake water.

Between waterbodies
If launching your boat again within 5 days into a different water body, thoroughly rinse boat hull and trailer with clean water where the runoff will not flow back into the lake and towel dry. Rinsing with high pressure, hot water between waterbodies is the gold standard. Flush motor, bilge, live wells, ballast tanks, and storage compartments with clean water per boat manufacturer instructions. It is best to visit a carwash before launching again, especially if the boat has been in a waterbody containing an invasive species infestation.


Purple Loosestrife Notice

In the summer of 2020, several areas of the invasive species of Purple Loosestrife were found by our Weed Watchers, and several plants were removed. Here is a link to the NH Department of Environmental Services Fact Sheet about Purple Loosestrife:

If you would like help removing Purple Loosestrife from your property, the CLA can help. Please contact us.

purple loosestrife
Purple Loosestrife (photo from NH DES)


Canaan Lake Association highlights the following boating laws for the benefit of Canaan Street Lake, the people who use it and the Town.

Obtain a Safe Boating Certificate if you will be operating a vessel with a motor over 25 HP. It is required by State Law.


If you are within 150 feet (about the length of 2 ski tow ropes) of the following, you MUST be travelling at headway speed (only fast enough to maintain the ability to steer the boat)


use of skicraft on Canaan Street Lake is prohibited.
NH RSA 270:113 - No person shall use or operate a Skicraft as defined in RSA 270:73 V, or a hovercraft as defined in RSA 270:2, VIII, on Canaan Street Lake.

sunrise through reeds

Lake Monitoring & Water Quality

In addition to sponsoring the Lake Hosting and Weed Watching programs, the Canaan Lake Association supports other efforts that protect the Lake.

The Association does water quality monitoring in conjunction with the NH Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) Volunteer Lake Assessment Program (VLAP). The State provides the equipment and the Association provides volunteer labor and pays for laboratory analyses.

Additionally, the NH DES Water Division regulates and protects water quality with a myriad of programs. Among these, NHDES tests the town beach water for harmful bacteria and toxins several times each summer. The summary of the latest results of these programs is available in the NH VLAP Report on Canaan Street Lake. Please see How to Read Your Report for an explanation of the NH VLAP report. The complete list of NH DES water quality programs is an invaluable resource available at this link: site listing of programs and publications.