The May 12 Wolfeboro Water Summit provided practical ideas for reducing storm water runoff that can carry harmful pollutants such as phosphorous into surface waters. This Water Summit built on the information conveyed at last year’s inaugural summit, focused on storm water mitigation projects that have been initiated under a series of Watershed Assistance Grants. Relying on a partnership of the Association, the Town of Wolfeboro, and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES), the grants have brought nearly a quarter of a million dollars in funding over the last eight years. Those funds – along with cash from the Association and matches of time and expertise from town departments and Association volunteers – have enabled stormwater remediation work along Route 109 near Gene’s Beach, the redesign and rebuilding of the parking lot at Mast Landing on Crescent Lake, and installation of a water infiltration system behind Auto Care Plus on Route 28. None of these projects, by themselves will “save the watershed” but each one helps protect our lakes. The community has now really started doing things to protect our lakes!
Engineers associated with each project provided reviews of the goals of each project and how they were accomplished. Each project was designed to reduce the amount of water running directly into the water bodies through the use of rain gardens and other methods. Wolfeboro Planning and Development Director Matt Sullivan and Public Works Director Dave Ford talked about the town’s understanding of the economic value that our surface waters bring to the town, and they reiterated the town’s commitment to preserving and improving water quality. Sullivan said that the town’s current work to create a new Master Plan acknowledges the value that water quality brings and noted that committees are working to identify threats to that water quality and how to protect the resources in the future. Sullivan also highlighted the next phases of Watershed Assistance Grant work that will focus on Camp Bernadette as well as additional work along Route 109. At the camp, not only will stormwater runoff be mitigated, but the team will take the opportunity to educate campers – the future stewards of our land – about water quality.
Panel member, Pat Tarpey, executive director of the Lake Winnipesaukee Association, talked about the approach her organization is taking. Because of the size of Lake Winnipesaukee, the group is approaching storm water management by addressing subwatersheds in the communities surrounding the Big Lake, tackling them one by one. The Wolfeboro Bay component will be targeted at some time in the future. However, because the Wentworth/Crescent Lake watershed drains into the Wolfeboro Bay, work done in that watershed helps to protect the bay and therefore the entire lake.
Sally Soule of NH DES encouraged property owners to tap into the agency’s Soak Up the Rain program materials online and she noted that homeowners can take also advantage of free consultations from DES. There are lots of resources online at DES, especially in the “Soak Up the Rain” section. They also are serious about helping landowners who want to do projects to improve their properties. You can contact them directly or get information through the Wentworth Watershed Association for help with your projects.
Tom Ouhrabka, weed puller extraordinaire, talked about the longstanding work of the Wentworth Watershed Association to combat invasive plant species in lakes and streams, noting that water from the Wentworth-Crescent watershed flows into Lake Winnipesaukee through the Smith River. Tom and his dedicated team has worked on the milfoil problem for years and is more than happy to hear from people who think that they find invasive plants on their shores. It is better to find problems early before things get out of hand. Also, there is a “weed watcher” program that educates interested people in how to identify weeds, both native plants and invasives.
Panel moderator Don Kretchmer, a certified lake manager and Wolfeboro resident, offered additional insight into the health of our watershed. He said that prevention is the key to protecting our lakes and streams from phosphorus runoff, noting that it’s difficult and expensive to try to remove it once it’s in the water body. In her closing remarks, Anne Blodget, the Association’s president, urged attendees to come back to next year’s summit with examples of storm water runoff reduction modifications they have made to their property. This is a “draw down year” which will make it easier to do projects near the lakes. Take pictures as you make improvements and share them with us next year.
Local residents can view a recording of the event on Wolfeboro Community TV. Also, you can contact Wentworth Watershed Association Executive Director Julie Brown at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.