Watershed Article in Union Leader

July 07. 2013 8:04PM

Groups combine efforts to protect Province Lake

By LARISSA MULKERN
Special to the Union Leader

EFFINGHAM — Province Lake, with its shallow, sandy beaches, clear water and proximity to seasonal camps and a golf course, attracts vacationers and locals alike. A collaborative watershed protection effort led by the Province Lake Association seeks to protect the lake and its 7.3-mile watershed area so that it remains healthy and attractive for humans and wildlife alike.

According to the Province Lake Association, the 1,008-acre lake — 70 percent of which is in New Hampshire, with 30 percent in Maine — has experienced more frequent blooms of potentially toxic algae in recent years. The state Department of Environmental Services considered the lake as “impaired” due to high phosphorus and chlorophyll a. levels, according to PLA Chair Carl Davis.
Most recently, the state issued a cyanobacteria advisory on June 21 that was lifted on June 28, in time for the long, hot Independence Day weekend. The advisory was issued after cyanobacteria was found off Bonnyman Road.
According to the state DES advisory sent to the PLA Association, a cyanobacteria advisory is not a lake closure.

“Our assessment of cyanobacteria (formerly called blue-green algae) involves a microscopic evaluation which serves only as a precautionary measure for short-term exposure to cyanobacteria. Our recommendation is to avoid contact with any area of water experiencing a bloom. Ingestion of the bloom/scum is one of our primary concerns. Keep pets out.”

This past Friday, members of the Haskell family clan hung out on the private beach area owned by Happy Hallow Campground on a stretch of sand with views of Green Mountain and the Maine side of the lake.

Susan Haskell of Haverhill, Mass., said 40 members of her family were gathering for the holiday weekend at Happy Hollow Campground. Family members were relaxing on the private beach area owned by the campground which is located right off Route 153, where the beach area is nearly level with the road.

Haskell was aware of the PLA watershed protection program, but not necessarily aware of the most recent cyanobacteria advisory in the lake off Bonnyman Road, some distance away.

On a hot and sunny day such as Friday, the focus was on the family gathering and enjoying the water.”This is one of the best lakes around,” she said, adding that it was safe for the kids, shallow with a sandy bottom, and a roped off area for swimming. Province Lake is only 17 feet deep.”It’s just beautiful here,” she said.

Province Lake Association Past President Carl Davis, a member of the association’s board, said the association has been around since the mid-1970s. The state DES has been conducting water quality sampling about four times per year for the past 22 years. More recently, the membership undertook an extensive study, collaborating with state and local agencies including NH DES, the State of Maine Department of Environmental Protection, the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance, the Green Mountain Conservation Group, F.B. Environmental Associates of Portland, Maine and Portsmouth, the towns of Wakefield and Effingham in New Hampshire, and Parsonsfield, Maine and other local volunteers to develop the plan.

“Our main concern is phosphorous,” said Davis. When levels of that nutrient rise, a bit it serves as fertilizer so weeds and algae grow faster. We’re really trying to further understand how that is impacting the lake,” he said, adding the study will try to address and identify human causes for elevated phosphorous levels that may include failed septic systems.

“Our lake is impacted by humans in two ways — through the roads, like Route 153, Bailey and Bonnyman roads when water runs off rapidly, carrying anything that has been on the road or sediment,” he said. The phosphorous attaches to the dirt particles that get rinsed into the lake and released into the water.

Phosphorous may also flow downstream to the lake from properties where fertilizers are being used. He said stormwater runoff could be slowed or diverted in a number of ways. The groups will work with the AWWA’s Youth Conservation Corps to help homeowners identify and create rainwater diversion methods to prevent phosphorous or nutrient ridden rainwater from flowing into the lake.

Davis said the environmental consultant from F.B. Environmental is conducting more advanced testing — such as tests for dissolved oxygen levels — as part of the watershed study. Asked how the most recent rains will affect the lake quality, he said he didn’t know, but hoped that the study will help determine whether the rain has flushed out, or flushed in, more nutrients.

An overview of the study will be presented at the Province Lake Association meeting to be held on July 20 at Province Lake Golf Course on Route 153. The meeting will begin with the business portion at 9 a.m., followed by a presentation from F.B. Environmental.

For more information, go to the newly designed PLA website at www.provincelake.org.

lmulkern@newstote.com

Acronym Soup! PLA, NHDES, MEDEP, AWWA, FBE, UNHSC, MEDOT, and NHDOT Looking into Route 153

On June 19th, if you were driving down Route 153 by Province Lake around 1 o’clock, you may have seen about a dozen people standing on the border between Maine and New Hampshire.  At first glance, with the weather being so lovely, these folks could have been early summer visitors enjoying the day on the Province Lake beach.  If you drive closer, you would see several wearing fluorescent yellow/orange vests and everyone standing in a circle.  It turns out, this was a meeting between a whole swatch of organizations gearing up to discuss the Province Lake Management Plan and what, if anything, could be done along the 153 stretch of Province beach.

The meeting was an acronym soup of organizations and marked a meeting between all the people involved from multiple states!  Standing on the state line to discuss potential fixes to Route 153 were, in no specific order, representatives from:

The Province Lake Association
NH Department of Environmental Services
ME Department of Environmental Protection
Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance
ME DOT
NH DOT
FB Environmental
UNH Stormwater Center

PLA DOT

The meeting went on for over an hour and half and a lot of good information was shared from starting points, to design ideas, to how things should be approached to get work done with everyone’s schedule and crossing state lines.  A definite “step in the right direction” to help improve and maintain the water quality of the lake.

Province Lake Watershed Plan Underway!

The Province Lake Watershed Management Plan is underway!  Over the past several months, dedicated PLA members, property owners, state and local officials, and interested parties have joined forces and started the process of analyzing the Province Lake Watershed.

On May 6th, the PLA made this press release.

On May 18th, a watershed survey was conducted with great success!  The PLA partnered with volunteers, Maine DEP, NH DES, and AWWA to identify sites along the shoreline that may have erosion issues or be contributing sediment and nutrients to the lake.

Currently, the PLA is preparing to mail information to the owners of sites that were identified.  These property owners can contact the AWWA Program Manager to receive a free technical assistance visit to see if they do have a problem and how they may be able to fix the problem.

Stay tuned for updates on the Watershed Management Plan as the summer moves forward!

Sunset on Province Lake

Sunset on Province Lake

Watershed Survey a Success!

On May 18th, the Province Lake Association (PLA), Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance (AWWA), NH DES, ME DEP, and lots of volunteers took on the task of surveying the Province Lake watershed to identify areas that could have negative impacts on the water quality of Province Lake.

IMGP0120

Part of the team getting ready to hit the ground … other ambitious team members were
already out on the task at hand.

The group met at 9 AM on Saturday morning at the Province Lake Golf Course to undergo a training and information session before hitting the ground in search of erosion issues.  Everyone involved was eager and ready at the start of the day and finished with the same jovial, high spirits.

The Survey
The Province Lake Watershed Survey consisted of seven groups of 2-3 people that were assigned to specific sectors around the lake.  The focus was on the immediate 250 foot shoreline and river crossings along roads.  The groups walked their sectors in search of properties with sediment being exported to the lake from driveways, unstable shorelines, roads, and many other features that could potentially harm the water quality of the lake.

20130518_121933Runoff from Bonnyman Road making its way to Province Lake, carrying sediment, nutrients, as well as potentially carrying oil and gas.

IMGP0125Runoff and beach erosion off Route 153.

After walking the watershed for 3-4 hours, the groups returned to the golf course to upload photos, grab a snack, and chat about what they had seen.  Each site that was documented had recommendations for fixes, including, but not limited to waterbars, erosion control mulch, or infiltration steps.

The data collected from this survey will be put into a report and property owners who have a potential erosion issue will be contacted by the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance for a free technical assistance visit to see if there is anything they can do to help the property and the lake.

The PLA, AWWA, NH DES, and ME DEP would like to extend a great big THANK YOU to all the volunteers who gave their time on a Saturday to perform this task and begin the process in protecting Province Lake.  We would also like to thank the Province Lake Golf Course for their kind offering of their facilities for our meeting/training.  Finally, and most importantly, we would like to thank all of you property owners for allowing us to walk your property as we continue to try to maintain and improve the quality of Province Lake.

Stormwater Survey

The Province Lake Association, NH Department of Environmental Services, Maine Department of Environmental Protection, Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance, property owners, and volunteers will be performing a watershed survey on May 18.  The survey is intended to identify potential locations of stormwater pollution and/or erosion that could be harming Province Lake.

Volunteers and Technical Leaders will meet at 9 AM at the Province Lake Golf Course for a training period before hitting the field.  If you are interested in volunteering in the survey, please contact PLAwatershed@ProvinceLake.org

Land Owner Letter