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Stimulus money available to assist lake water quality programs

Town to hold special town meeting to accept $225k

April 29, 2009
WAKEFIELD — The Acton-Wakefield Watershed Alliance is high on the list to receive $225,000 from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to fund programs that protect local lakes from soil erosion pollution and, ultimately, protect lakefront property values.

Select board members Ken Paul and John Blackwood approved AWWA's request to pursue these federal stimulus funds at its April 22 meeting. As required by state Senate Bill 39, the town must first hold a special town meeting where voters will decide if the town can accept the funds, then re-pay half of that loan—$112,500—over an extended period of time, to be determined by town and state officials. SB 39 allows for an expedited town meeting with a shortened notice period of seven days. The public hearing on the grant acceptance and application will be held the same night at the vote itself, with no ballot voting.

"I'm willing to go the next step," said acting Chair Ken Paul following a presentation by Bill Archiri, an environmental engineer with Vanasse Hangen Brustlin Inc. (VHB), and AWWA Coordinator Adam Shoukimas.

The Problem

Archiri outlined the problem with stormwater management and sediment erosion in a written handout and in his presentation to the board.

According to his report, the results of the 2008 Lovell Lake Watershed Survey indicated that soil erosion is the single greatest source of pollution to Lovell Lake. "Excess sediment entering the Lake carries phosphorus which can stimulate algae growth, reduce water clarity and adversely affect the aesthetic and recreational value of the lake. Studies have shown that a decline in water clarity can have a negative impact on property values, especially when the lake's use for recreational purposes becomes less desirable," according to the written handout distributed to the board.

The Watershed Survey identified 161 sites where sediment erosion was evident and sediment was observed to be washing into the lake. Fifty-seven percent of the sites were residential properties where either the lack of vegetation, excessive drainage or excessive slopes resulted in sediment washing into the lake. Another 24 percent were associated with state, town or private roads, and primarily dirt and gravel roads where sediment washes away into streams, culverts or on to driveways that lead to the lake, according to the report. Winter plowing and seasonal road maintenance also adds to the sediment movement into roadside ditches and eventually into the lake.

Archiri said they've submitted an application for stimulus funds through the state, which coordinated applications for stormwater management projects to improve water quality. "As it turned out, this project was ranked four out of the list of 100-plus applications, so it was eligible for funding and will receive money to implement measures to improve water quality at the lake," he said.

Remedial measures

The Town of Wakefield is eligible for $225,000 to cover the engineering and construction costs for remedial measures and those funds would be targeted to three major projects:

Task A would expand AWWA education and outreach to shoreline property owners to enhance use of landscaping techniques on residential properties ($20,000); this task would focus on expanding the existing AWWA-Youth Conservation Corps Program to work with shoreline property owners to promote the use of landscaping techniques, establish native vegetation and groundcover in shoreline areas and promote infiltration of runoff through rain gardens and to reduce the amount of impervious or compacted surfaces, according to the report. The funding would be used to hire additional crews as part of the YCC to provide labor and assist residents with plantings and other landscape installations, specifically around Lovell Lake, according to the proposal.

Task B would address road maintenance, ditch improvement and stabilization ($120,000). This task would focus on cleaning out and re-stabilizing critical sections of roadside ditches where sediment has accumulated over time and remains vulnerable to erosion during rain events. Critical areas would include several sections along Brackett Road and Pond Road, where sediment has filled in covering the riprap base within the ditch. The per unit costs for ditch re-stabilization is estimated to be roughly between $30 to $45 per linear foot, depending on the depth and width of the ditch, the material costs and the amount of labor provided by town personnel, according to the proposal. An additional lump sum of $10,000 is included for hydroseeding and for various erosion control materials, and $15,000 is recommended for road surface modifications/re-grading to lower the road surface elevation in key areas where the road is higher than the adjacent driveways and sediment, and runoff travels down the driveways and enters the lake.

A Brackett Road resident expressed his support for the proposal at the meeting.

He said residents deal with water runoff from the road and that you could see the sediment make its way into the lake. "We're concerned about the quality of the lake," he said, adding that residents have worked with the highway department and have done a lot of work on their own. He said the program would help educate property owners about mitigation measures.

Selectman Paul agreed, adding that the silt is only what can be seen. "You don't see the phosphorous," he added.

And when one resident suggested that homeowners should be responsible for their own remediation, Paul added that AWWA—through its Youth Conservation Corps—provides free labor, but that homeowners purchase their own materials.

Relf Fogg asked from the audience if engineers were assigned to a particular area, would they then charge for each potential change of (engineering) plan. Archiri replied that no, and that the work will be a joint effort between AWWA and the University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center. He added they weren't planning on drawing plans for each remediation, and will likely use just cross-section drawings or specs. They will be working in the field, mostly, he added. Town Administrator Robin Frost noted that utilizing the UNH Stormwater Center allows the project to bypass what would have been a lengthy process of N.H. Department of Environmental Services sending out request for proposals. "The timing would have taken us past the deadline," she added.

Task C would address culvert/streambank scour protection ($50,000). This task includes reinforcing and adding riprap stone material at select locations where channel scour is reoccurring and determined to be a continuous source of sediment loss, according to the proposal. The final $35,000 would cover engineering and oversight costs for the projects.

The Town of Wakefield special town meeting on the stimulus funds for stormwater runoff remediation will be held at 6:30 p.m. on May 13, prior to the regular board of selectmen meeting, at the town hall/Opera House on High Street in Sanbornville.

Martin Lord Osman
Tilton School
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