You can now help track algal blooms with bloomWatch
|State and local officials can’t be watching every lake at all times! By using the bloomWatch app on your smartphone, you will help scientists understand where and when algal blooms occur and may be causing issues. No training is necessary – if you see a green scum, clump, flakes or filaments, you simply take a picture, fill in some basic information and upload it to the web.
The information gets sent to both cyanos.org and the NH Department of Environmental Services. Join the community of citizen scientists!
Want to understand the water quality data for Lake Winnipesaukee in more depth? For those lakes in the University of New Hampshire’s Lakes Lay Monitoring Program, results from each year’s sampling are now online. The reports provide a summary of water quality for specific areas of Winnipesaukee based on measurements of total phosphorus, chlorophyll-a, and water clarity. All of Winnipesaukee’s reports are not yet available, but will be uploaded as completed.
A visual snapshot of the health of Lake Winnipesaukee can be found on the Winnipesaukee Gateway. The map allows the user to view the lake as a whole and choose which parameter (Total Phosphorus, chl-a, water clarity) to display. Individual sampling sites can be clicked on, and a pop-up window will open to provide a snapshot of the data for that site. It’s Winni cool!
Winnipesaukee Ice Out ‘P check’ Results
Thank you to all of the volunteers, NHDES, UNH, NH Fish & Game staff, communities and businesses that made the second Ice Out ‘P check’ a success!
A flotilla of boats went out on Lake Winnipesaukee on May 4, 2015 in a massive coordination effort conducted by the Lake Winnipesaukee Association to obtain lake samples after ice out. Ice out on Winnipesaukee was declared on April 24th, leaving a small window of opportunity to collect samples before the lake begins to stratify.
The goal of the sampling is to determine the nutrient levels of phosphorus in Lake Winnipesaukee when the water turns over each spring. The sampling verifies models that are a key to the continued development and implementation of the Winnipesaukee Watershed Management Plan.
The models predict in-lake phosphorus concentrations (also known as “P”) at spring overturn when Lake Winnipesaukee waters mix fully and the temperatures in the water are consistent from top-to-bottom and all nutrients are evenly distributed throughout the lake before warmer weather creates distinct, thermal layers or boundaries that prevent mixing of nutrients throughout the water column.
Phosphorus is a key indicator of how productive Lake Winnipesaukee will be during the summer. High values of ‘P’ lead to increased algal blooms and the growth of vegetation in lakes. The P levels may increase in the spring with snow melt due to higher run off volumes and erosion associated with spring rains.
This was only the second time that “ice out” sampling of the entire lake has occurred in which locations are sampled at approximately the same time in one day (the first ice out sampling event took place on April 2, 2010). 150 samples were collected from deep lake sites in Meredith Bay, Center Harbor, Moultonborough Bay inlet, Moultonborough Bay, Wolfeboro Bay, Alton Bay, the Broads, Saunders Bay north and south, Paugus Bay, and Cow Island.
“We are happy to partner with this effort again since Lake Winnipesaukee is our lifeblood.” said Steve Durgan, General Manager of Goodhue & Hawkins Navy Yard in Wolfeboro. “It is in all our best interests to have clean water to ensure quality lifestyles, a healthy economy, and the wonderful recreational experiences afforded by Lake Winnipesaukee and the surrounding region.”
Nine boats were graciously supplied by Goodhue & Hawkins Navy Yard, Jim MacBride, Bill Gassman, Dave Joyce, Tuftonboro Fire and Rescue, the NH Marine Patrol, the NH Department of Environmental Services, NH Fish and Game Department, and Laconia Water Works. Additional volunteers and staff from the Lake Winnipesaukee Association and the University of NH Lakes Lay Monitoring Program were on hand to assist. Conservation Commissions in Meredith, Center Harbor, Moultonborough, Tuftonboro, Alton, Gilford, and Laconia are helped make this event happen by providing partial funding to cover the costs for lab analyses. The ice out sampling would not be possible without the support and involvement of the towns, volunteers, marinas, State Agencies, and UNH Center for Freshwater Biology.
Thank you to our sponsors and volunteers!
The Lake Winnipesaukee Association (LWA) assists the UNH Cooperative Extension’s Lakes Lay Monitoring Program (UNH LLMP) on Lake Winnipesaukee. There are approximately 25 volunteer water quality monitors trained in taking water samples and in carrying out various water quality tests at over 30 sampling sites on the lake. The information and samples from these monitors are collected and further analyzed at the UNH laboratory, producing a meaningful set of data from year to year. The data may be used to detect early warning signals of potential problems. The state also takes water quality tests on the lake, but only every 10 years, making our efforts very important in creating a complete water quality database. Volunteer Today!
LWA became involved with water quality monitoring on the lake in 1982 and continues to play an important role in the coordination and expansion of monitoring taking place from just after ice-out into the early fall every year. LWA assists with recruiting and training volunteer water quality monitors, coordinating the movement of water samples from volunteers to the lab, and seeking out sponsors to fund the monitoring going on throughout the lake. We also focus on public outreach – promoting the program and publicizing the data and results.
You can access current maps of the sampling locations and water quality data online at www.winnipesaukeegateway.org
Lake Aging (Eutrophication)
Excerpt from “Understanding Lake Aging” by Robert Craycraft, Educational Program Coordinator (UNH LLMP), and Jeff Schloss, UNH Cooperative Extension Water Resources Specialist.
The process by which lakes age and progress from clear, pristine lakes to green, nutrient enriched lakes is known as eutrophication. This is a natural occurrence and can take thousands of years. Some lakes age at a faster rate than others due to natural attributes, such as watershed area relative to lake area, slope of the land surrounding the lake, soil type, mean lake depth, etc. Lakes are also influenced in their rate of plant growth (aging) through human activities (cultural eutrophication). Chemicals used to fertilize our lawns are nutrients, which if they enter our lakes stimulate plant growth and culminate in greener (and less clear) waters. Clearing large tracts of forested lands for development culminate in increased susceptibility of lakes to sediment and nutrient loadings. The aging process can be speeded up in tens of years rather than the natural transitional period of thousands of years. Lakes are often categorized into trophic states, meaning the level of lake plant and algae productivity or “greenness”. The three trophic states that lakes are generally categorized into are oligotrophic (pristine), mesotrophic (transitional), and eutrophic (enriched). Some of the commonly used parameters to measure the trophic state or age of a lake are chlorophyll a, water transparency, total phosphorus, dissolved oxygen, and macroscopic plant or weed abundance.Oligotrophic lakes are considered “unproductive” pristine systems and are characterized by high water clarities, low nutrient concentrations, low algae concentrations, minimal levels of aquatic plant “weed” growth, and high dissolved oxygen levels near the lake bottom. Eutrophic lakes are considered “highly productive” enriched systems characterized by low water transparencies, high nutrient concentrations, high algae concentrations, large stands of aquatic plants, and very low dissolved oxygen concentrations near lake bottom. Mesotrophic lakes have qualities between those of the two mentioned above, with moderate water transparencies, nutrient concentrations, algae growth, and dissolved oxygen concentrations.
The work that the volunteer water quality monitors undertake each season is extremely important in measuring the parameters, and providing data to UNH Cooperative Extension for long term trend analysis of the water quality of our lakes.
Effluent from failing septic systems is a major water quality concern in the Lake Winnipesaukee watershed, as the majority of properties around Lake Winnipesaukee rely on onsite wastewater disposal systems (septic systems). Compounding the issue is the fact that many properties are seasonal, second homes or rental properties. Many property owners may not know that they have a septic system, where it’s located or when it was installed.
To help people better understand the functioning of septic systems and how to care and maintain this critical component of their home, LWA has sponsored several Septic Sense Seminars around the Winnipesaukee watershed; thank you to Wolfeboro Community TV for filming one of the seminars.
You can access the video of the Septic Sense program via You Tube at the following links:
Proper Use and Maintenance of Septic Systems
Everything that goes down the drain, toilet, dishwasher, bathtub, and/or washing machine goes to some type of waste water disposal system; usually it’s either a private septic system or a municipal sewer system.
If a home is on a private system, that system needs to be maintained in order to function properly. Why?
The septic system is a two-part sewage treatment and disposal system buried in the ground, composed of a septic tank and a leaching system. The sewage generally flows by gravity; first into the septic tank where the larger particles are removed and some decomposition takes place and then into the leaching system where it soaks into the ground.
The effluent that enters the leach field contains bacteria (E. coli), nitrates, phosphorus, and other chemicals; remember – whatever you put down your drain or toilet ends up in your septic system!
The leachate or effluent from your septic system eventually filters through the soil and becomes groundwater. If your system was located and installed properly and is maintained, this arrangement works to naturally filter out the pollutants. However, inadequately functioning and/or failing septic systems contribute to groundwater contamination. Waste water from septic systems may include many types of contaminants, such as nitrates, harmful bacteria and viruses.
Protect Your Septic System
1. Regularly inspect your system and pump your tank as necessary.
2. Don’t dispose of grease, coffee grounds, diapers, cat litter, latex paint, feminine hygiene products, household hazardous wastes, etc. in sinks or toilets. These items can clog the distribution lines or impair the function of the tank.
3. Minimize or eliminate use of sink disposal units which place an added burden on your system.
4. Care for your leach field (drainfield). Avoid driving or parking vehicles on it. Plant only grass over or near the leach field to avoid damage by roots.
5. Avoid use of water softeners; the salts which discharge during backwash into a septic system can crystallize and clog the distribution lines.
For More Information on how Septic Systems Function visit these websites:
For information on Septic System Designers, Installers, and Evaluators visit the
Granite State Designers & Installers Association website.
For information regarding your septic system, visit your Town Hall and review the property records, or contact/visit NHDES Subsurface Systems Bureau website.
For Information on Contaminants in Drinking Water, visit the NH Dept. of environmental Services website: http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/factsheets/dwgb/index.htm
Factsheets ”Water Quality Testing for Private Wells: http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/dwgb/well_testing/documents/well_testing.pdf
Moultonborough Bay and Winter Harbor Watershed Management Plan Development – Request for Qualifications due January 31, 2018.
The LWA is seeking qualifications from environmental consultants to assist the organization in development of a watershed management plan for the Moultonborough Bay and Winter Harbor subwatersheds of Lake Winnipesaukee.
You may upload your RFQ via this link.
Moultonborough Bay Inlet Watershed Restoration Plan
On December 11, 2017, the Lake Winnipesaukee Association, in partnership with FB Environmental Associates of Portland, Maine, presented a plan to address the water quality impairments in Moultonborough Bay Inlet at a public meeting held at the Moultonborough Public Safety Building.
Moultonborough Bay Inlet, the northernmost area of Lake Winnipesaukee, has historically exhibited excessive levels of the nutrient, phosphorus, poor water clarity, low dissolved oxygen, and extensive milfoil growth. The Moultonborough community has invested considerable resources over the past five years to address milfoil and lake quality. The Watershed Restoration Plan identifies sources of pollutants within the watershed that have led to the impairments and results in an action plan to assist the community in guiding their efforts to improve water quality. The presentation can be viewed here.
Lake Waukewan – Lake Winona Watershed Restoration Plan
Prepared by the Lake Winnipesaukee Association and FB Environmental Associates of Portsmouth, NH, the plan is the successor to the 2005 Waukewan Watershed Management Plan, and part of LWA’s lake-wide approach to preserving and enhancing the water quality of Lake Winnipesaukee.
Watershed residents, landowners, business owners, and recreationalists alike have a vested interest in protecting the long-term water quality of Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona for future generations. The goal of the plan is to improve the dissolved oxygen concentrations in the bottom depths by reducing the amount of pollutants, sediments, and nutrients that enter the lakes. The lake study advisory committee chose to reduce the median in-lake phosphorus concentrations by 10% and 5-10% in Lake Waukewan and Lake Winona, respectively, over the next 10 years. This goal can be reached if management actions discussed in the plan are implemented accordingly. Implementation of this plan over the next 10 years is expected to cost $324,200, and will require the dedication and hard work of municipalities, conservation groups, and volunteers to ensure that the actions identified in this plan are carried out accordingly.
This plan was partially funded by a Watershed Assistance Grant for High Quality Waters from NHDES using Clean Water Act Section 319 funds from the USEPA, with additional financial and in-kind services provided by the Waukewan Watershed Advisory Committee, the Windy Waters Conservancy, and the members of the Lake Study Advisory Committee.
The plan can be accessed on line at the Winnipesaukee Gateway website.
- Septic System Improvement Initiative
Improperly functioning septic systems can present a public health risk and degrade a lake’s water quality, particularly when these systems are located near the shoreline. Poorly functioning septic systems can release excessive amounts of nutrients, pathogenic organisms, and pharmaceuticals into a water body. At the same time, it can be difficult to identify problem systems and enforce rules on the local level to repair, upgrade, or replace those systems, largely because of the cost to property owners. Despite these challenges, the town of Meredith and the Lake Winnipesaukee Association (LWA) implemented programs to identify and help homeowners fix failing septic systems near Lake Waukewan, which is Meredith’s public water supply and a regional recreational resource.
In January 2013, the town of Meredith adopted a health regulation that requires evaluation of all septic systems within 250 feet of Lake Waukewan. Also in 2013, The NH DES awarded LWA a grant through the Source Water Protection Program to provide cost sharing incentives to reimburse property owners half the cost of a professional evaluation of their septic systems.
Compliance with Meredith’s health regulation was likely enhanced by LWA’s cost share evaluation program. Sixteen property owners voluntarily participated in the cost share program which was open to New Hampton, Center Harbor, and Meredith residents. Seven septic systems were found to be in failure (44%), and nine passed (56%). In addition, eight Meredith properties had their septic system evaluations done outside of the program; half of which were found to be either in failure or passing with intermittent use only.
For those properties whose septic systems were found to be in failure, LWA offered a second cost-share program toward the installation of new systems. As of the completion date of the grant project, December 31, 2015, fourteen septic systems were upgraded and replaced, resulting in a reduction of 5.3 kg of phosphorus to Lake Waukewan, in addition to a reduction in other pollutants, such as bacteria, nitrates, and pharmaceuticals. Of the 14 new systems installed, LWA provided cost share grants in the amount of $4000 to 9 property owners toward the overall cost.
We are pleased to have been able to offer these much needed cost-share programs to help property owners offset the financial burdens associated with septic system replacements.