Here’s to Another Successful AWWA YCC Season

It is hard to believe that just 8 short weeks ago we were kicking off our 8th Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) season.  We had some veteran crew leaders and one returning crew member, but the rest were looking at their first experience with AWWA…

In that time a lot happens and the changes are amazing.  Not only do these six teenagers and two young adult crew leaders go out everyday and transform eroded water front properties into beautiful landscaped areas, but they grow as individuals. Each member of the crew learns new skills, grows stronger with every wheel barrow load, and experiences adversity, both physically and mentally.

This year, our crew set out on June 24th with a lot on their plates.  We had a lot of projects lined up and more coming in everyday in the earlier part of the season.  Although it took some time (as it always does) to bring everyone up to speed and mesh together as a team, within a few weeks the crew was moving through projects at a great rate.

The pushed through the heat of the middle of summer and tackled every task we set before them with enthusiasm and positive attitudes.  As the YCC season neared an end, the crew was working on all cylinders and having a great time doing it.  It was this attitude that allowed us to complete a record 25 projects across 7 lakes in Wakefield, NH and Acton, ME.  On these sites they installed 101 Best Management Practices (BMPs) to reduce the flow of polluted runoff to the lakes and infiltrate that runoff into the ground where it can be cleaned by the soils.  These BMPs will stop an estimated 57.2 tons of sediment and 48 pounds of phosphorus from entering the lakes annually!

As the Program Manager and Technical Director, I could not be more pleased with the effort of these 8 individuals and the result of their hard work.  Below are a few pictures of the work they did this summer.  Stay tuned for our annual report and more of our work as we move from this great summer to fall!

Great East Lake – Rip rap shoreline, erosion control mulch, rock terraces, native vegetation, and infiltration trench.

Lovell Lake – Waterbars, dripline trench, and erosion control mulch

Great East Lake – Infiltration Steps

Balch Lake – Infiltration Steps, Erosion Control Mulch, and Native Vegetation

Wilson Lake – Rain garden at the Hawk Road Right of Way

2013 YCC Annual Tour

We will be having our annual meeting and YCC tour on Friday August 16th from 9:30-12. We will be meeting at the Acton Town Hall 9:30 to go over some quick business and then leaving for a tour to see a handful of the 101 BMPs that the crew put in this year across 7 lakes.

Included in the tour are two projects on Hawk Road (Wilson Lake), one project on New Bridge Road (Horn Pond), one project on Rafferty Drive (Great East Lake) and one project on Anderson Cove Road (Great East Lake).  Join us to celebrate the protection of our amazing lakes and the hard work these students put into their summer jobs!


3 Weeks of YCC Projects!

Well, in a matter of what feels like 3 days, we have completed 3 weeks of erosion control projects on our local lakes.  The AWWA YCC has been busy installing Best Management Practices (BMPs) on lakes in Wakefield and Acton.  This quick blog is just to give you an update on the numbers and see the wonderful work they do.  So here goes!

-BMPs Installed: 36
9 Projects on 6 different lakes
-Prevented  23 tons of sediment and 19.2 pounds of phosphorus from entering the lakes annually.

A great start for our crew this year! We look forward to another solid 5 weeks of erosion control landscaping!  Now take a look at the work they have done below.

Rain Garden on the Hawk Road Right of Way – Wilson Lake

Rubber Razor with Detention Basin – Great East Lake

Detention Basin – Great East Lake

Infiltration Trench – Great East Lake

Infiltration Trench – Lovell Lake

Rubber Razor – Great East Lake Lake

Waterbar and Erosion Control Mulch – Great East Lake

Dripline Trench, Drywell, and Erosion Control Mulch – Great East Lake

Dripline Trench and Erosion Control Mulch – Great East Lake

Same spot different angle.

Erosion Control Mulch – Horn Pond

Building Infiltration Steps – Pine River Pond

Erosion Control Mulch – Pine River Pond

Infiltration Steps – Pine River Pond

Dripline Trenches and Erosion Control Mulch – Great East Lake

Waterbar Step and Erosion Control Mulch – Great East Lake

Waterbars and Erosion Control Mulch – Great East Lake

The 8th YCC Season Kicks Off

On Monday, the AWWA Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) kicked off its 8th season of erosion control landscaping.  The past 7 seasons have been a great success with the installation of 476 Best Management Practices (BMPs) on 123 properties across 10 lakes.  These projects have stopped 244 tons of sediment and 207 pounds of phosphorus from entering these lakes annually.

This years crew is led by two veteran members of AWWA.  Anthony Stanton has been a part of AWWA since it began in 2006.  This will be Anthony’s 5 season as crew leader.  He is joined this year by a new crew leader, but by no means a rookie.  Jordan Shepherd has been with the program fro 5 years as a crew member and took over for Sam Wilson this year as crew leader.

The crew is a mixture of experiences, but make up one of the youngest aged crews AWWA has had.  Five crew members are 16 years old at the start of the season while one will be 18 at the end of June.  Two members are returning to AWWA from previous seasons and bring a wealth of knowledge about what AWWA does, why we do it, and how to install many of our erosion control features.

We look forward to a great year and stay tuned for updates on the season!

Posted in YCC

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
FB Environmental
UNH Stormwater Center


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.

Paul School 6th Grade Visits the Gundalow

On Friday June 14th, the Wakefield Paul school 6th Graders took a field trip with AWWA to Portsmouth for their last Watershed Education class of the year.  Friday marked the culmination of the several weeks AWWA spent in the classroom this spring.  AWWA stresses the importance of water quality, invasive species, and macroinvertebrates and also explains the connection between many of Wakefield’s lakes (Great East, Ivanhoe, Lovell, and Horn) that make up the headwaters to the Salmon Falls River and eventually, the Piscataqua River.

On Friday the students got to take a sail on the Gundalow style ship named the Piscataqua.  The Gundalow Company aims “to protect the Piscataqua Region’s maritime heritage and environment through education and action”.

On Friday the students boarded the Piscataqua and went for a sail on the Piscataqua River connecting land use to water quality and the headwater watersheds they live in to the ocean.  The sail lasted about two hours and students were broken into three groups that participated in a variety of activities.

Before they started the activities, the students had to help raise the sail!  To watch the video of the sail raising, click here.

After raising the sail, students got to do a bunch of neat things.  One group looked at river/ocean ecology through observing a lobster and doing a plankton tow to observe what visible plankton were in the river.

Another station had the students observing maps and navigation.  Students even got a chance to captain the ship!

The other station had students go below decks and work on a watershed model connecting land use to water quality.

The sail was a huge success and the students had a great time.  After docking, the students had lunch and headed over to Pierce Island where they had a little more ecology with AWWA Executive Director Linda Schier.  Students learned about crabs, star fish, and more!

With another year in the schools done, we wish everyone a happy summer and seeing a whole new group of 6th graders next year and seeing these students as 7th graders when AWWA does well water testing with them!



Acton Elementary 8th Graders Help Design BMPs

In the fall of 2011 AWWA began the task of writing school curriculum that would combine AWWA’s watershed education with the Wakefield Paul School and Acton Elemenatry teacher’s schedule.  Over the past two years we have been teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th graders about water quality, invasive species, macroinvertebrates, drinking water, and erosion control measures.  To see our curriculum in depth, please visit out “AWWA in the Classroom” page.

The goal of this curriculum is to teach students the importance of water quality and end their 8th grade year with a project that they designed.  In 2012, the students at Acton Elementary chose a location near their baseball fields that was slowly eroding down slope to the river that runs through their campus.  The students put together wonderful projects, via the teaching of Dave Cote, that outlined soil profiles, mapping, water quality, and potential BMPs across their campus.  The most chosen location was behind the ballfields and all the groups chose infiltration steps as a way to fix the problem.

In the spring of 2012, the AWWA Program Manager and Crew Leaders installed a series of 17 infiltration steps to remediate this issue and improve access.  

This year, the students unanimously chose the other side of the stream which is a primary walking path for parents to reach the ballfields.  The site receives a tremendous volume of water from the parking lot that flows all the way down the path to the stream.

The initial part of the path receiving large volumes and cutting a gully in the sediment and transporting the sediment to the river.

 The students decided that a series of waterbars would work to divert the runoff from the path and into the vegetation around before reaching the river.  We took their designs and performed the installation on May 30.  The students joined us mid way through the project to go over all that they had learned and see how the features are installed.

The final product included 6 waterbars, 3 drywells, and some erosion control mulch to prevent runoff from entering the river.

Time for Spring Clean-Up and a Check of Your BMPs

Well…it’s June, and that means that summer is nearly upon us.  Many of you have probably spent the last month or two opening up your seasonal camps and cottages, throwing the windows open, raking up the leaves and acorns, and removing debris from your beach or shoreline. Along with these standard practices that we undergo every spring, we should be including one more really important one, checking your property for signs of erosion and inspecting any landscaped features that have been installed to manage stormwater on your property.

AWWA YCC Crew Leader Jordan Shepherd inspects a waterbar on Wilson Lake this spring.

Sites with Stormwater Management
Those of you who have had the AWWA Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) install some Best Management Practices (BMPs) on your property know the importance of these features and also know that if they are not maintained properly, they will cease to function. Each spring, you should add this simple list to your “to-dos”.

  • Inspect the area around the installed feature
    -look for areas where runoff is overflowing and potentially eroding the surrounding area
    -look for sediment build up in detention areas like drywells and rain gardens. Try to remove excess sediment when possible as the sediment will decrease the ability for features to infiltrate water
  • If the feature looks to be in good shape, keep an eye on it the next rain storm to make sure it is functioning
  • If the feature appears to not be working or has failed, please contact the AWWA Program Manager for assistance (603) 473-2500 or visit our contact info.
Although not in bad shape, this project was installed in 2011 and is due for a little maintenance due to leaf litter.  The leaves on the infiltration walkway and dripline trench will prevent runoff from being able to get into the ground.  A quick rake or sweep of the BMPs should remove the leaves.  If these leaves were on an area of ground away from the camp, we would encourage you to leave them in order to buffer the movement of runoff toward the lake.
This series of infiltration steps and vegetation look great coming into their second year of existence.  Minimal pine needles and no signs of erosion near the lake.

Sites with No Stormwater Management
If you have never had the YCC install any features at your property and you have never installed any erosion features yourself, than it is important to monitor your property at various times of the year.  The first time of year to check is during the spring.  Little rills or even gullies can occur after we have our winter melt and runoff.  If everything looks good in the spring, than the next step is to keep your eyes peeled during our increasingly intense thunder storms in the summer.  These storms can now dump upwards of several inches in an hour onto a property.  If you have any chronic erosion issues, know of runoff during storms reaching your lake, or would like to have a free technical assistance visit, please contact the AWWA Program Manager at (603) 473-2500 or see our contact info.

A site with runoff coming from the road, down the driveway and right into the lake.  Look for evidence in pine needs and the displacement of rocks showing the flow.

Large Gullies are a dead give away that large volume of stormwater are washing sediment, nutrients, and potential pollutants into the lake.

If you have any questions, would like to request a free technical assistance visit, or need a new site design due to a failed BMP, please contact us at (603) 473-2500 or visit our contact info.

Another Successful School Season!

Every spring, AWWA spends upwards of 3-5 weeks in the Wakefield Paul School and Acton Elementary teaching 6th graders about watersheds, water quality, invasive species, and macroinvertebrates.  The program is part of our “AWWA in the Classroom: Watershed Education for Future Community Leaders“.

This year was one of our best years to date.  Executive Director Linda Schier and Program Manager Dustin Johnson, with help from board member Chuck Hodsdon, attended 10 classes over a 3 week period (4 at Acton Elementary and 6 at the Paul School).  The first two weeks teach the students about what a watershed is, what pollutes our waters, how we can protect it, and what sorts of invasive species are out there.  The students at both schools were wonderfully engaged and eager to learn more.

The last week of classes is, by far, the student’s favorite (and probably ours too!).  During the last class we bring in live macroinvertebrates, including dragon fly nymphs, beetles, crayfish, and, occasionally a leach, among many other critters.

Before each class, we go down to the Branch River in Union and do some kick netting to wrangle up as many little critters as we can to bring to the class.  The students break up into three groups after a short presentation and spend the next hour observing and identifying the collected macroinvertebrates.

The students stay so engaged during the process.  One by one, they remove, identify, and assign a “Pollution Tolerance Value” (PTV) to the critter.  The PTV’s assigned to the specific macroinvertebrates is used at the end to classify the water quality of their “ponds”.

At the end of the class, the groups report back to the class on how many critters they had, how many different types of critters, the final PTV of their “ponds” and their favorite macroinvertebrate.  All the ponds were found to be in excellent condition with regards to water quality and the critters living in them.



Our final WWotW, as part of our erosion identification series, is “Gully“.  A gully is a feature characterized by the erosion of land by water cutting sharp edges into soil, typically on a hillside.

The photo above illustrates the severity in which gullies erode the landscape.  As mentioned in our WWotW on rills, gullies are basically the same feature, but much larger. You can put your fingers in a rill, you can step into a gully.

Gullies usually form on steeper slopes and/or with a large volumes of water in a short period of time.  Summer thunderstorms are the perfect scenario for gullies to form.  The rapid removal of sediment from the landscape and potential deposition into waterbodies is a major environmental concern as the eroded material can carry nutrients and bacteria.