September 30, 2020

Dear WWN members,

It’s hard to believe that another summer has come to an end. As different as this one was with the COVID-19 pandemic I hope that spending time on our beautiful lake gave you the opportunity to set your worries aside for a bit and just soak up the beauty.

We certainly saw an increase in the number of boats launched on the lake this year, indicating that more people were recreating closer to home and taking advantage of all that Lake Winnisquam has to offer. I want to thank all of our Lake Hosts; Barbara Chapman, Jessica Casterline, Kalena Graham and Deb Williams, who monitored the boats coming into the lake at the Water Streetlaunch throughout the summer to ensure they were free of invasive species.

Our 2020 milfoil control program will wrap up this week as Aqualogic divers conduct a final round of harvesting in the Jay’s Marina area. I’m thrilled to report that once it is completed Winnisquam will be totally free of invasive milfoil, at least for the time being. The fall survey conducted by a NHDES biologist revealed no additional growth in the areas previously treated. While we haven’t quite won the war on this invasive weed - variable milfoil is tenacious and once established is nearly impossible to totally eliminate, this does mean that our comprehensive management strategy is working. By keeping after it year after year we should be able to prevent the milfoil from becoming a nuisance and impacting the aquatic habitat of the lake.

I also want to thank all of our 30+ volunteer weed watchers who’ve been inspecting the shoreline areas of our lake through the summer to check for any new variable milfoil growth and keep an eye out for other invasives. We’re happy to report that no new invasive species or new growths of variable milfoil were found this year.  Invasive species are a huge threat to our lakes so it's important that we are vigilant in our efforts to keep them out.
Our water quality monitoring programs have also wrapped up for the season. Thanks to the efforts of our trained volunteers we conducted several rounds of water quality testing in Lake Winnisquam and in streams flowing into the lake. The water quality data generated by these programs is posted on our website. Consistent long-term water quality monitoring data enables us to identify and address trends and potential pollutant sources before they get to be a serious problem.

Along those lines, the WWN has continued to work to advance the development of a Watershed-based Management Plan for the Winnisquam watershed. With increasing recreational activity and development pressure within the watershed, climate change impacts, and threats from invasive species it is imperative that we as a watershed community develop a long-term strategy to protect and preserve our lakes. The watershed management planning process prescribed by EPA includes identifying pollutant sources, conducting water quality modeling to determine the impact of those pollutant sources on water quality, determining water quality goals and the pollutant load reductions needed to achieve those goals, and identifying suitable management measures and Best Management Practices (BMPs) aimed at meeting the pollutant reductions needed. For the Winnisquam watershed this might include things like a program to help homeowners reduce erosion on their property, addressing specific problem areas, recommended modifications to municipal road maintenance practices to reduce pollutant loadings, looking at whether septic systems are a problem, and so on. Basically, a WMP will provide a roadmap for the WWN, communities and stakeholders in the watershed to protect the lakes in our watershed into the future. Provided it is completed in accordance with EPA guidelines it will also enable us to pursue funding underSection 319 of the Clean Water Act to implement management strategies. 

This past year the WWN worked with the Lakes Region Planning Commission, our technical consultant and other watershed partners to lay some of the groundwork for a WMP. This included mapping and land use characterization, a review of our water quality database and, with the generous assistance of Laconia’s Conservation/Planner Technician Ashley Ruprecht, a septic survey of Laconia properties within 300 feet of the Winnisquam shoreline. In addition, nine teams of WWN volunteers stepped up to conduct a shoreline survey of 880 properties on the Winnisquam shoreline to assess buffer characteristics and provide input data for the water quality model. This herculean effort will wrap up this month, and we extend our sincere gratitude to all those who participated.  We hope to let you know of additional progress on the watershed management planning front in the near future so please stay tuned.

Having spent the past several years getting our programs up and running the WWN Board of Directors is now looking to develop a strategic plan for the organization to help us articulate our goals and priorities moving forward and identify the actions we need to take to achieve them. We hope to conduct a strategic planning session at one of our board meetings this fall. If any of you would like to provide input to this process or can help to facilitate the session please let us know.

Don't forget that drawdown on Winnisquam is scheduled to begin on October 17th and will last for several weeks.  Fall is upon us!

Lisa Eggleston