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Joyce Endee

Local watershed experts explore options for Waukewan Brook

September 08, 2021
MEREDITH Analysis and early planning is underway on ways to improve the water quality on Waukewan Brook from looking at culverts to talking with landowners about a stream restoration project.

Community Planning Director John Edgar and a team of representatives from the Waukewan Watershed Advisory Committee and Lake Winnipesaukee Association talked with the selectmen about this ongoing project during the Aug. 16 selectmen's meeting.

Reservoir Brook is a tributary to Lake Waukewan and starts at Waukewan Highlands park, running to Reservoir Rod and around the Winnipesaukee Playhouse property, goes under Route 104, and flows into Monkey Pond on Lake Waukewan.

Edgar said the Waukewan Watershed Committee worked with the Winnipesaukee Watershed Association to put together a watershed management plan, analyzing a number of sites and identifying possible areas of erosion. A few culverts in particular were flagged for further study, including a cross culvert at Waukewan Street, a culvert at Reservoir Road, and a cross culvert on Route 104.

This year, the Lake Winnipesaukee Association did a hydrologic assessment of the brook, showing six of the seven culverts that connect to Waukewan Brook are undersized and not big enough to handle large storm events.

A study of the brook also showed it was the second highest contributor of phosphorous to Lake Waukewan, the highest being the Snake River.

The Lake Winnipesaukee Association formed a partnership with Trout Unlimited for a joint venture to both analyze and address the quality of the watershed and the trout habitat.

Edgar said brook trout measuring eight to nine inches long have been found in the brook.

One proposed option is to do stream restoration work that mimics a tree being dropped in the water, filtering phosphorous from the sediment and slowing down the water.

Similar projects have bene done at Hurd Brook in Alton, Black Brook in Sanbornton, and Poor Farm Brook in Gilford. Edgar said the team visited Poor Farm Brook and saw what was done.

"If they didn't tell you they did this project just by looking at the stream, it's so innocuous you wouldn't even know that they did the work," Edgar said.

Edgar said the project will be entirely done through grants and will have no cost to the town or the property owners.

The project does depend on permission and cooperation from property owners.

Property owners were invited to a site walk in July, though Edgar said only four of the 15 landowners came to the site walk.

"I don't think that's necessarily a sign that people don't care," Edgar said, saying it wasn't a great strategy to try to get people out on a Saturday morning in the summertime.

An assessment is also proposed for the culverts to determine what should be done with them. Edgar said some of these culverts are undersized and would be better off replaced anyway. This also looks at it from an ecological and habitat point of view.

"From a climate change point of view, we all know (we've) experienced extreme events and they're putting more pressure on our drainage system," Edgar said.

He said a major pipe break at Monkey Pond 10 years ago that blew out the railroad tracks illustrated that.

Edgar said the community's role is to facilitate contact with the property owners, putting them in contact with representatives from the project.

Town manager Phil Warren said replacing a cross culvert in a wetland isn't an easy task, especially for permitting.

He said any possible proposal would have to be engineered, which would have a sizeable cost though one that could be helped with other funding sources.

"If at the end of the day it creates a little more stability in the watershed it has a beneficial effect for Lake Waukewan then let's take it the next step," Warren said. "Where we're at today even if we get the landowners' permission it's a step-by-step approach."

The project will be discussed further at a later time.

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