Great Attendance at the Landscape Workshop – Soak Up the Rain

The April 5th Landscape Workshop was a well attended event. Many of the attendees were landscapers who work on properties around our lakes and in the watershed.There were also many property owners as well. Letting everyone learn the basic and rather easy ways to help protect the watershed was a great step in the process of preventing stormwater from polluting our lakes.

Barbara McMillan and Lisa Loosigian from NH DES work on a project called Soak Up the Rain New Hampshire program. This program works to educate homeowners and landscapers about ways to protect our lakes from pollution from chemicals and nutrients. One slide was shown that asked a question relating stormwater and pollution.

……and the answer is 90%. Yes, 90% of all the bad stuff that goes into NH lakes gets there because of rapid run-off from major storms. These downpours seem to be more common, yes, when it rains it often seems to pour, and this excess water flow moves all this “stuff” that shouldn’t go into lakes and streams into them. These pollutants include residue from what vehicles leave on the highways and roads, pet waste, excess fertilizer put on lawns and sand and silt that contain nutrients.

The workshop showed easy ways to deal with this stormwater run-off and why it was important to design walkways, roads and landscaping to prevent it. Perhaps the easiest way to deal with the issue is to provide a vegetative buffer, that is an area that will slow and absorb the run-off. It may even be that this kind of buffer will help deter geese from using a grassy area for grazing because with the vegetative buffer, they can’t see escape routes. This buffer doesn’t have to prevent you from  seeing the lake, it just needs to make it difficult for the geese and to slow down the water flow.

Anne Blodget kicking off the workshop.

Barbara McMillan speaking with the Soak Up the Rain banner behind her.

Rain gardens were also a focal point of the discussion and these are places where rapid run-off from a road or driveway can form a temporary pond before it seeps into the ground. This prevents the rapid flow of water into the water body and also causes the nutrients and pollutants to be trapped in the soils rather than going directly into the lake or stream. The design of these rain gardens must take into account how fast the water from the “pond” seeps into the soil and these are therefore not useful if the area is designated as a wetland in the first place. Much more information can be found at the Soak Up the Rain website at: https://www4.des.state.nh.us/SoakNH/

The workshop was well attended. It was a day that had cold temperatures so maybe people weren’t doing much landscaping during the day……

The second half of the program was given by Jay Aube of DES and he talked about the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act. Much of his talk was related to the fact that for many small projects, it is either easy to get approval or the project can be done without a permit from DES. Any project that does not use mechanized equipment, meaning you just use a shovel and wheelbarrow, can be done without a permit. For many other projects, there is an expedited approval process that can make things much easier for the property owner. Jay did emphasize that being aware of the permitting process is the responsibility of the landowner and if contractors are involved, they, too, need to be aware of the permitting and follow it. All of the regulations are designed to protect our water bodies so there is a good reason for them and to follow them.

Jay Aube discussing the Shoreline Protection Act.

One thing that was pointed out was the difference between “developed land” and “undeveloped land” with regard to the amount of “stuff” that gets into the lakes from run-off. There is a big difference. Vegetative buffers will help.

This workshop would not have happened without the help of many volunteers but there were also many wonderful sponsors who helped to fund it.

One last thing……. The event was designed to attract people and the event in the Great Hall included local beer provided by the Burnt Timber Brewing Co. as well as some very tasty food. Pat Waterman, town clerk, was the first person to get a taste of the beer…….