Category Archives: Water Quality Monitoring

Got a Smart Phone?

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 and the NH Department of Environmental Services.  Join the community of citizen scientists!

Lake Reports now Online!

2016 Bear Island WQ Summary_Page_1Sampling Highlights of Monitoring Program supplement Winnipesaukee Gateway data.

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!

2015 Ice Out Sampling Event

Winnipesaukee Ice Out ‘P check’ Results


2015 Ice Out 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.

Steve Landry, NHDES, and Heidi Baker, volunteer, collect water samples in Moultonborough Bay for lab analysis of phosphorus concentrations.

Steve Landry, NHDES, and Heidi Baker, volunteer, collect water samples in Moultonborough Bay for lab analysis of phosphorus concentrations.

“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!



UNH Lakes Lay Monitor Program (UNH LLMP)

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

unhllmp_mapUNH LLMP monitoring sites on Lake Winnipesaukee.

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.