Linda Schier of AWWA Wins Gulf of Maine Council Award

Linda Schier (c) accepting the Visionary Award from Steve Couture (r) of NHDES and GOMC representative. Looking on is Sally Soule (l) of NHDES.

Linda Schier (c) accepting the Visionary Award from Steve Couture (r) of NHDES and GOMC representative. Looking on is Sally Soule (l) of NHDES.

Linda Schier has been bestowed the 2016 Visionary Award by the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment (GOMC). The Council was created in 1989 by the governments of Maine, Massachusetts, New Brunswick, New Hampshire and Nova Scotia to foster environmental health and community well-being throughout the Gulf watershed.

This year, New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) staff members Steve Couture and Sally Soule nominated Linda for her exemplary work and dedication to protecting the lakes in the border region of Acton, Maine and Wakefield, New Hampshire.

As the Executive Director of the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance, Linda brings lake issues in this area to the attention of municipalities, businesses, educational institutions, governmental agencies, residents, visitors and students.

In 2005, Linda and AWWA founded a Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) to provide summer jobs for local youth. Under Linda’s guidance, the YCC has installed over 750 stormwater management practices that prevent many pounds of sediment and phosphorus from reaching lakes, rivers and streams. She has also served as the leader for two significant watershed planning projects, one for Province Lake and another for the Salmon Falls headwaters lakes. During these projects, Linda brought diverse stakeholders together to collect and analyze watershed data and recommend specific actions for reducing pollutant load to the waters.

The full list of Linda’s accomplishments is extensive, including projects such as initiating Weed Watcher programs, organizing water quality monitoring volunteers, hosting special interest workshops, advocating for lake protection at municipal forums, organizing educational events and river clean-ups, conducting watershed assessments, and leading hands-on school and community programs.

Celebrating the award with Linda are AWWA Directors (l-r) Pete Tasker, Mary Lenzen, Dick DesRoches, Pete Dinger, Jon Samuelson, Jeanne Achille and Rosemary Stewart.

Celebrating the award with Linda are AWWA Directors (l-r) Pete Tasker, Mary Lenzen, Dick DesRoches, Pete Dinger, Jon Samuelson, Jeanne Achille and Rosemary Stewart.

Linda does not shy away from the technical, environmental, and social challenges inherent in lake protection work. Through her enthusiasm, curiosity and persistence, she motivates others to care about lakes, too. Her passion, creativity and deep understanding of lakes and people have earned her the respect of many.

The CyanoMobile is Coming to Wakefield July 27!

Mobile Lab 4The CyanoMobile is coming! What is the CyanoMobile? It is the USEPA Northeast Regional Laboratory mobile lab that will be traveling around the New England states this summer teaching citizens about the new Northeast Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program. It’s coming to Lovell Lake on Wednesday, July 27, from 9 am to noon to inspire volunteers to take action.

Join us in welcoming the CyanoMobile for an exciting morning learning how to become a citizen monitor or just to learn more about the health of our lakes. The Northeast Cyanobacteria Monitoring Program is coordinating three monitoring projects to locate and understand harmful cyanobacteria in lakes in the northeast states.

Under the right conditions cyanobacteria can spread quickly, forming dense “blooms” on a waterbody’s surface. These blooms are a big problem because many cyanobacteria species produce toxins that are dangerous to humans and wildlife. Cyanobacteria and their toxins can be found in water as well as in the air nearby.

During this hands-on program, cyanobacteria experts Hilary Snook of the USEPA Northeast Regional Laboratory and Dr. Jim Haney of the UNH Center for Freshwater Biology will teach you how to sample for and identify cyanobacteria species. No experience is necessary and you can choose to learn the very simple “Bloomwatch” program or get more involved with the “CyanoScope” project or “CyanoMonitoring.”

In the morning we will go out in a boat to collect samples, then conduct shore side sampling, concentrate the samples, prep slides and learn to use the Cyano Apps and Dirty Dozen key. There is plenty of bench space in the lab and there will be a large monitor for viewing the samples.

We are thrilled to be able to participate in this exciting new project and look forward to building our local team to gather information about the state of our lakes. For more information or to register contact Linda Schier at AWWA – (603) 473-2500 orlindaschier@AWwatersheds.org.  To learn more about these projects please visit cyanos.org.

Landscaping for Healthy Lakes a Huge Success!

On Saturday, June 27, the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance collaborated with Springvale Nursery to present a program entitled “Landscaping for Healthy Lakes” to local residents. The workshop included an indoor lecture phase and an outdoor, “hands on” phase. Executive Director, Linda Schier, of AWWA gave a brief history of AWWA and explained its mission of protecting and improving the water quality in our regional water bodies. Project Manager, Sam Wilson, then explained the techniques used by AWWA’s Youth Conservation Corps which are called Best Management Practices (BMPS). These techniques control storm water and cause it to infiltrate into the ground rather than rush into the lakes, ponds and streams carrying surface pollutants such as soil, oil, pet or farm animal waste, and agricultural chemicals and, thereby, reducing the quality of the water.

Special attention was given to building rain gardens, dripline trenches and the use of rip rap (large crushed rocks) to slow down water and infiltrate it into the ground where it is naturally cleansed before it enters our water table or water body.

File Jun 29, 6 07 46 AMThis was a perfect opportunity for Michelle Martin of Springvale Nursery in Sanford to educate the audience about what kind of plants to use to supplement the installation of BMPS. Michelle stressed the benefit of choosing native or native-improved plants to include in lakeside, riverside or streamside locations. These plants tend to be hardy and require less care than more exotic nursery selections, and  can be very beneficial for homeowners who are usually more interested in relaxing and enjoying the recreational value of their properties than having to tend to fussy landscaping installations. The plants recommended by Ms. Martin were especially selected for their ability to be suitable for sun and shade, dry and sometimes wet locations. She brought samples of her most recommended plants which included day lilies, ilex winterberry, Nannyberry Viburnum and Dwarf Native Honeysuckle.

File Jun 29, 6 07 10 AMAfter a snack break, everyone went outside of the Greater Wakefield Resource Center on Main Street in Union, NH, for the “hands on” phase of the day’s activities. Sam demonstrated how to safely use the tools and then presented the plans for installing a dripline trench in front of the building, a channel for directing the water into a rain garden, and the rain garden itself. Workshop attendees were invited to work alongside members of the YCC crew and many took advantage of the opportunity to wield a shovel or a pickax and dig in.

Other “hands on” activities which were situated outside on the premises were a display of live macroinvertebrates collected from the nearby Branch River. Linda Schier helped those attending to identify such denizens as Dragonfly, Mayfly, and Stonefly nymphs, Caddisfly and Helgremite larvae (which become Dobsonflies and are very sensitive to pollution) and Whirlygig Beetles. At a nearby table, Jeanne Achille displayed and File Jun 29, 6 09 35 AMdiscussed the various aquatic plants which typically grow in local water bodies. The native plants included Pickerel Weed, Bladderwort, Large Leaf Pondweed, Watershield and Spatterdock. Of particular interest to the group was the Variable Water Milfoil, collected from a lake in Dover, which is an invasive plant and can totally take over a water body making it impossible to use for swimming, fishing and other recreational activities. Although it has infested some lakes in New Hampshire and Maine, lake associations and other organizations are working hard to prevent its spread, while those infested are spending thousands of dollars per year to try to control it.

File Jun 29, 6 10 07 AM File Jun 29, 6 12 49 AM File Jun 29, 6 15 52 AM IMG_8239After a hardy lunch, some of the audience remained to help the crew finish installing the BMPs. The storm on Sunday was timely as it presented a test of the efficacy of all this hard work. Special thanks must be extended to the YCC Crew Leaders Jordan Sheperd and Seth Fogg, with Crew member Dan Crowley, and intern Kaitlin Carr. With the beginning of a new YCC season, this workshop is a great reminder to local waterfront homeowners to call Sam Wilson at 603-473-2500 to have their property evaluated for erosion issues and obtain a free Technical Assistance Plan and perhaps become a Project Host. Every BMP installed prevents phosphorus from entering the water and protects water quality. The YCC is funded by grants and individual donations, which allows the crew to work on properties at no cost to the homeowner who pays only for the materials. Don’t delay, be a good lake steward and call Sam today!

Landscaping for Healthy Lakes Workshop – June 27

Edelmann 2Do you want to know more about how your landscape may be affecting the nearby streams and lakes? Do you have unsightly areas around your home that might be funneling sediment into our lakes or streams? Do want to learn about what plants will thrive in your garden? Do you want to see how rain gardens are installed?

Join AWWA and Springvale Nurseries June 27th at 9 AM for a free hands-on workshop at the Greater Wakefield Resource Center in Union, NH to learn about how our landscapes can help clean the water,  how to select and care for low-maintenance native plants for all conditions and then dig in to help create two on-site rain gardens. Simple rain gardens will not only help prevent runoff but can actually be an attractive part of your landscape design. Sam Wilson of AWWA and Michelle Martin of Springvale Nurseries will be on hand to answer all your healthy lake landscaping questions and demonstrate how to best plan your landscape. We’ll be providing lunch afterward, so please RSVP to info@awwatersheds.org or (603) 473-2500 by June 24. All are welcome!

Province Lake Septic Evaluation Project: Request for Qualifications

The Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance (AWWA) has been awarded funding from NHDES, through a grant from Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, for implementation of the “Province Lake Watershed Management Plan Implementation Phase 1: Addressing High Priority Actions and Building Local Capacity” project. Province Lake lies in Wakefield and Effingham, NH and Parsonsfield, ME and is listed on the NHDES 303(d) list as impaired for Aquatic Life Use due to high levels of phosphorus and chlorophyll-a and for Primary Contact Recreation due to recurring cyanobacteria blooms.

AWWA invites interested contractors to submit qualifications for the development of the “Evaluation of Septic System Risk to Province Lake” program. The selected consultant will work closely with AWWA, the Province Lake Association, NHDES and other project stakeholders to evaluate high risk septic systems within the Province Lake watershed. 

For the full project description and to download the RFQ, please visit: Province Lake Septic Evaluation Program RFQ.

Province Lake Road Mgmt Plan: Request for Qualifications

NOTE: RFQ was revised on April 9, 2015 to clarify submission and questions address.

The Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance (AWWA) has been awarded funding from NHDES, through a grant from Section 319 of the Clean Water Act, for implementation of the “Province Lake Watershed Management Plan Implementation Phase 1: Addressing High Priority Actions and Building Local Capacity” project. Province Lake lies in Wakefield and Effingham, NH and Parsonsfield, ME and is listed on the NHDES 303(d) list as impaired for Aquatic Life Use due to high levels of phosphorus and chlorophyll-a and for Primary Contact Recreation due to recurring cyanobacteria blooms.

AWWA invites interested contractors to submit qualifications for the development of a Road Management Plan to address stormwater runoff from  Bonnyman Road and Route 153. The selected consultant will work closely with AWWA, the Province Lake Association, NHDES and other project stakeholders to implement surface water quality restoration tasks within the Province Lake watershed.

For the full project description and to download the RFQ: Province Lake Road Management Plan RFQ 2015

AWWA River Volunteers Hit the Water

AWWA Volunteers heading out to sample the Salmon Falls River

AWWA Volunteers heading out to sample the Salmon Falls River

VRAP Team AWWA got off to a stellar start on July 9th monitoring four sites on the Salmon Falls and Branch rivers. VRAP is the NHDES Volunteer River Assessment Program. The AWWA team of Jeanne Achille, Kari Lygren, Diana Spahn and Glenn and Stephanie Thornton spent the morning with VRAP intern Tanya Dyson, and AWWA’s Linda Schier, learning the ins and outs of the monitoring protocols and equipment. The team is collecting data to develop a baseline portrait of the water quality in the upper Salmon Falls River as part of the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative’s effort to protect the river:

“The Salmon Falls River is fed by an ecologically diverse land area shared by the states of Maine and New Hampshire, and drains into the Great Bay estuary, a coastal ecosystem of national importance. Approximately 47,000 people (not including well users), including the population centers of Berwick, Maine and Somersworth, NH, currently rely on the Salmon Falls watershed to provide clean drinking water. The watershed is potentially threatened by increases in polluted runoff resulting from rapid population growth and conversion of forested land to developed areas.”

Twice a month throughout the summer, VRAP Team AWWA will be taking readings on Dissolved Oxygen, Conductivity, Temperature, pH, and Turbidity.  Regular collection of water quality data allows for early detection of water quality changes allowing DES to trace potential problems to their source. The team of novice monitors started the day with a bit of trepidation but by the end of it they were calibrating, measuring, counting, and recording like pros. The teamwork was impressive and they have committed to their sampling dates for the rest of the season. Way to go Team AWWA!

Team AWWA

According to the VRAP website – “During the summer months, VRAP receives water quality data from trained volunteers. The data are reviewed for quality assurance, and are entered into the environmental monitoring database (EMD) at DES. During the off-season, VRAP interprets the data and compiles the results into an annual report for each river. VRAP volunteers can use the data as a means of understanding the details of water quality, as well as guide future sampling efforts. DES can use the data for making surface water quality assessments, provided that the data met certain quality assurance/quality control guidelines.”

If you are interested in learning more about either the river sampling or lake sampling contact AWWA. The lake monitors on each lake are always looking for more volunteers and there are many more river sites that we’d like to be monitoring. There’s a job for you if you are a veteran scientist or have never turned on an instrument. We’d love to hear from you.

AWWA 2014 Annual Meeting & Project Tour August 15th

2014 Crew 1

Join AWWA to celebrate the terrific work of our youth crew and road project partners! On Friday, August 15 the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance will hold its 2014 Annual Meeting and Project Tour. The brief business meeting will be held at the Province Lake Golf Club off of Route 153 (18 Mountain Road) in Parsonsfield, Maine beginning at 9:30 am. Attendees will then carpool to selected YCC and road project sites around Province Lake. The Youth Conservation Corps crew will describe their work and showcase the effective and attractive erosion control practices they installed at residences along the shore. The tour group will also visit the road project site at the Towle Farm/Bonnyman Road intersection where the Province Lake Association partnered with the UNH Stormwater Center and the Town of Wakefield to fix chronic drainage issues that were sending polluted runoff directly to Province Lake.Towle Farm hole IMG_6046

Registration is requested so we can prepare for carpooling. Please contact AWWA at (603) 473-2500 or info@AWwatersheds.org to register or with questions.

 

Learn How to Save Your Lake!

Stop PicTime to Register!! On Saturday, June 14th, from 8:45-2:30, join experts from both the Maine Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program and the NH Department of Environmental Services to learn about how you can help prevent an invasive aquatic plant infestation in your lake.  This workshop, held in Acton, ME will give you an overview of invasive species issues in Maine and NH, teach you the tricks of identification fundamentals, let you play with live invasive and native aquatic plants and give you the tools to conduct a screening survey.  All workshop participants will receive an Invasive Plant Patroller’s Handbook, Maine’s Field Guide to Invasive Aquatic Plants, and the NHDES Weed Watcher kit. Click here for the agenda.

The workshop is presented in four parts:

  • Overview of invasive species issues in Maine, New Hampshire and beyond (native vs invasive is included in this section).Quote callout
  • Aquatic plants: plant communities; identification fundamentals; ID characteristics of New Hampshire and Maine’s most unwanted and their native look-alikes.
  • Plant identification hands-on exercise with live plants (natives and invasives).
  • Conducting a screening survey: tools; techniques; documentation; certification; and how these programs differ by state

This free workshop is being coordinated by the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance (AWWA) in partnership with the York County Invasive Aquatic Species Project and multiple lake associations from both states.

To register, or for more information, contact AWWA at [603] 473-2500 or info@AWwatersheds.org.