Fernald Brook protection aims to reduce soil runoff

Implementation of the Wentworth/Crescent Watershed Management Plan is taking another step forward as project organizers begin an effort to protect Fernald Brook, one of the largest tributaries to Lake Wentworth, from the effects of stormwater runoff.

Officials from the Lake Wentworth Foundation, the Town of Wolfeboro, and the project’s lead engineering firm, Tighe and Bond, dug a series of test pits on April 13 behind Auto Care Plus (formerly Trites Automotive and Miller Chevrolet) to determine how best to capture storm runoff from the parking areas that cover the property. During rainstorms and snow melt, water flows across the lots and towards Fernald Brook, bringing with it the potential for sand and contaminants from nearby roads to reach the stream. 

Foremost among those contaminants is phosphorus, which acts as a fertilizer for unwanted algae and weed growth in the brooks and lakes. 

With the cooperation of Auto Care Plus’s owners, watershed plan partners, including the Foundation, the town, and the state Department of Environmental Services, are hoping to divert runoff into a basin situated behind the Auto Care facility’s buildings. 

Foundation volunteer Don Kretchmer and Dave Cedarholm discuss options for managing runoff into Fernald Brook
Foundation volunteer Don Kretchmer and Dave Cedarholm discuss options for managing runoff into Fernald Brook

The structure, hosting native plants, would take up and infiltrate the water, eventually passing it through filter fabric before spreading it out over the nearby forest floor. 

The work behind Auto Care Plus is one of three projects that make up phase two of the Wentworth/Crescent Watershed Management Plan.

Another will capture runoff from around Wentworth State Park before it reaches Lake Wentworth, and a third effort aims to prevent runoff from South Main Street from running destructively across numerous properties before flowing into Crescent Lake.

The Wentworth/Crescent Watershed Management plan has a 10-year goal of reducing phosphorus in the two lakes by 15 percent over a 10-year period.

Much of the effort to reach that goal will focus on identified sites where stormwater is known to flow into tributary streams before heading for the lakes themselves.