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.