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Lake Wentworth Watershed study results presented

ROGER MURRAY, Wolfeboro Public Works Director Dave Ford, and Don Trice joined their assigned group in animated discussion on water quality values and threats on July 11, following a presentation of the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake Watershed Management Study at the Wolfeboro Inn. (Elissa Paquette photo) (click for larger version)
July 19, 2012
WOLFEBORO — With the Lake Wentworth/Crescent Lake Watershed Management Study complete, it was time to present the findings of FB Environmental and Comprehensive Environmental, Inc. to Wolfeboro residents on July 11 in the Wolfeboro Inn. Citizen input is an important part in the final stage of the study.

The host, the Lake Wentworth Foundation, contributed $30,000 to supplement a $68,000 grant from the Environmental Protection Agency administered by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, but it's not about money alone.

Among the more than 60 residents gathered around tables in the ballroom to listen to extensive analysis of the two lakes and their environs were numerous volunteers who offered their personal time to the labor intensive effort of collecting specific information from their neighbors as to land use and septic systems over the last year.

Water quality monitoring efforts by volunteers throughout the years also contributed to the nearly 30 years of data upon which to draw conclusions.

Analysis showed that though water quality is presently high, Lake Wentworth's water quality is undergoing a slight but steady decline in every parameter. What happens in one lake affects the other: 40 percent of the phosphorus (P) in Crescent Lake comes from Lake Wentworth, and Lake Winnipesaukee, five miles away downstream, eventually receives whatever is upstream.

Phosphorus is the key ingredient contributing to persistent milfoil infestations and algae blooms. When that happens, water clarity goes down and the sunlight is blocked, resulting in low oxygen and a reduced fish population. Reduced property values follow.

Phosphorus enters the lake from rain falling directly from the sky and also from the eroding effects of stormwater runoff, for it attaches itself to particles of sand and soil, which find their way into the lake. AN estimated 55 percent of runoff is along impervious surfaces, such as asphalt, according to the scientists.

Fertilized turf and septic systems also contribute to the P load. Audience members heard that there is 1,000 times the amount of P in a septic system than in the lake, which may also include pharmaceuticals and soap, so a small amount of leakage can have an impact.

The suggested remediation priorities are to concentrate efforts on stormwater, winter sanding, yard waste, composting and the use of fertilizers.

Groups formed by assigned numbers gathered throughout the room following the report to elicit what residents value most highly and what they see as threats to the environment they seek to protect.

Proper control over development can maintain or halt the decline in water quality. With Wolfeboro projected to reach full build out by 2043 and Brookfield projected to reach its maximum development by 2110, consultants said the time is now to make and execute plans to protect the lakes' water quality.

Salmon Press
Martin Lord & Osman
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