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Wakefield selectmen receive Brackett Road plan

ROBERT ROSEEN of UNH Stormwater Center presented the results and recommendations of a study of Brackett and Pond Roads to Wakefield selectmen on May 25. (Mellisa Seamans photo) (click for larger version)
June 02, 2011
WAKEFIELD— The largest challenge to protecting area lakes, according to Acton-Wakefield Watershed Alliance (AWWA), is the "threat of untreated runoff from impervious surfaces and development."

Their recently-released report, prepared by University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center continues that soil erosion is the greatest source of pollution to Lovell Lake. "Soil contains the nutrient phosphorus, which has the potential to promote algae blooms when it enters a lake in large quantities. As the algae die off, the water becomes depleted of oxygen, affecting fish and animals that depend on the lake water," the report says.

According to a presentation at the Wakefield selectmen's meeting on May 25, the phosphorus level in Lovell Lake is at the peak of acceptable level and needs to stay where it is or there is the threat of reduced clarity in the water and algae blooms, creating the potential for serious water quality issues at the lake.

To address the concern, two years ago a team of volunteers and staff from lakes associations and both Maine and New Hampshire state agencies surveyed the area and found 161 sites that are contributing polluted runoff to Lovell Lake. These sites are roads, driveways, properties and shorelines. Ten of the 38 sites, according to the UNH report, were along Brackett and Pond Roads in Wakefield.

Last year, AWWA was awarded a grant from NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) to fund the road management plan completed by UNH.

Copies of the road management plan and related charts are available at Wakefield Town Hall.

Robert Roseen, of UNH Stormwater Center, told selectmen that his group were asked to come up with solutions that are the least expensive, most effective, and easiest to maintain. The report details blocked or non-existent drainage in several areas along Brackett Road and suggests both long- and short-term solutions that reroute stormwater and filter it before it makes its way to the lake.

Roseen and co-presenter James Sherrard suggested some things that can be done right away in conjunction with the town's road crew including using a leaf vacuum to clear leaves from drainage areas rather than having to excavate which "chews up the channel", renting a vactor truck to clean catch basins and purchasing or hiring a hydroseeder to create a natural grass filter to slow and clean sediment out of stormwater runoff.

Those in attendance agreed that none of the necessary work can move forward without a partnership between the landowners along the road and the selectmen. Roseen said it shouldn't be too difficult to get the support of landowners as many have been involved in the committees that have studied the problem. And landowners are affected by the runoff, too. "Due to the fact that the water has no place to go, one house had aggregate piles from the runoff and it looked like a DPW (department of public works) site," he said.

Sherrard said there should be no state permits required to complete the necessary work since none of the projects are located close to the lake or in wetlands.

While contracting the entire project, 14 sites that need improvement, would cost the town about $250,000, the report finds that if the town's road crew completes the work it could cost as little as $56,590. This would take care of all runoff issues along the full length of Brackett and Pond roads.

NHDES Grant Manager Sally Soule told selectmen that she highly encourages them to move forward and apply for grant funding from that agency. Given that there is a plan in place, the research has been done, and the community support, she said Wakefield's application would be "very competitive" in the grant process. Selectmen voted to accept the plan and to continue to work with AWWA to apply for funds and implement the plan. Selectmen agreed that the plan could also be useful when other sites are identified on town and private roads throughout the town, when new developments are being built, and something the planning board could consider implementing as they update the town's site plan regulations. "Wakefield has a lot of build-out potential. Now would be a good time to look at the regulations," said Roseen.

Other News

Selectmen make quick and efficient work of their meetings, especially when the meeting runs past the start time of the Boston Bruins hockey game. As that team was vying for another win toward the playoffs, selectmen quickly finished other matters on their agenda.

It was announced that David Mankus has been appointed the new chairman of the town's Conservation Commission.

Selectmen had taken a stack of bids for the removal of scrap metal at the town's transfer station. When it was discovered that there are additional metal items that were not included on the original list, selectmen opted to start the bid process all over again. The full list of items to be removed as well as the bid specifications can be found at the Wakefield Town Hall and on the town's website at www.wakefieldnh.org.

AJ Coleman
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Varney Smith
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