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

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.


Wakefield and Acton Road Projects Survive the Winter!

Between last summer and fall, the Wakefield DPW, Langley Shores Association, Hawk Road Association, Eagle Road Association, and Abbott Road Association installed numerous fixes on their roads to improve the flow of runoff and keep it away from the lakes.

Since the snow has almost disappeared and the weather was gorgeous yesterday, I decided to take a little ride around and see how some of the road fixes fared this winter.

Our journey started on Brackett Road where the Town of Wakefield, Wakefield DPW, UNH Stormwater Center, and AWWA partnered last year to install several fixes to chronic problem spots.  These locations were chosen as part of the Road Management Plan that identified areas of the road that were washing out during rain storms and flushing large volumes of sediment into Lovell Lake.

Right away I realized that there was more snow out there than I thought (hoped for)!  However, I still managed to get a good feel to how the projects were holding up.  The above picture is of a snow-filled detention basin that will catch lots of road runoff and prevent it from running down this homeowners driveway and into the lake.  The picture below is of the 300′ ditch that runs on the other side of the road to a catch basin that will settle sediment and allow cleaner water flow into the detention basin.

The only potential issue I could see was that these ditches were loaded with sediment.  This is one of those things that will have to be monitored and potentially dealt with to maintain the effectiveness of the ditch.

Next I traveled to near where Pond Road starts.  This detention pond, although still full of snow is functioning well.  The road was graded to another long rock ditch on the other side of the road and goes into a deep sump catch basin that will settle sediment and drain the remaining water to this basin.  The road was in good shape considering the time of year as well.  This indicates that runoff is moving off the road and preventing heaving and mud.

All in all, despite still being snow covered in the beginning of April, the projects on Brackett Road have held up well and look to be quite efficient at preventing polluted runoff from entering Lovell Lake.  And why wouldn’t you want to protect this:

I left Brackett Road and headed toward Hawk Road on Wilson Lake to inspect some projects done there in the early summer last year.  The first fix I inspected was actually an AWWA YCC project in 2011.  We built a rain garden and a detention basin to try an alleviate the excess water and treat runoff before it moved toward Wilson Lake.  Our fix worked pretty well, but the Hawk Road Association came in last summer and expanded the detention basin with some equipment and paved the road.  This solution fixed the problem entirely.

Normally at this time of the year, this spot would have had a huge ice patch across the road that had been nicknamed “the glacier” due to its size.  With the fixes that took place, “the glacier” is gone and so is standing water in the road.

The next stop on Hawk Road was at their boat launch.  This was a big project last year that required replacing some culverts and enlarging the catch area for the road runoff.  This site also looks great and is performing well.  The YCC hopes to get in there this year and install a rain garden to the side where some runoff bypasses the catchment and flows into the stream.

After checking out the Hawk Road fixes, I ventured over to Eagle Road to see what had been done over there.  The road itself was pretty horrendous, but the fix seemed to be channeling the water well from the upper section of the road.  There is some more work to be done on Eagle Road in the coming years to prevent polluted runoff from entering the lake and keeping the road in better condition.

I skipped Langley Shores Drive because the work done over there has been inspected pretty readily for almost a year and doing quite well.  I will check it out this summer when the YCC is over that way.

The first year of AWWA’s partnering with towns, local organizations, and road associations has been a great success and we look forward to the coming year of road fixes and erosion prevention!

Wilson Lake from the Hawk Road Launch



Youth Conservation Corps Hiring!

Youth Conservation Corps (YCC)

AWWA is looking for 16,17, and 18 year old residents of Wakefield, NH and Acton, ME for our 2013 YCC Crew.

If you’re interested in spending your summer working outside, on lakefront properties doing landscaping with a purpose, contact AWWA Program Manager Dustin Johnson at (603) 473-2500 or email at djohnson@AWwatersheds.org

 Crew Member Application 2013

Crew Member Poster 2013

Examples of work we do:

An infiltration walkway on Province Lake.

A series of Infiltration Steps on Lovell Lake.

A Rain Garden and Detention Basin on Wilson Lake.

What’s Hiding in the Snow?…

As you know from reading this blog, I like the snow and I love winter.  I suppose I am one of those “weird” people who list winter as their favorite season.  I like the cold, the peace and quiet, and the outdoor activities, but none of that is as fun without the snow!  Whenever I think back on last winter, I remember bare ground till January, a couple little storms, 50’s at the beginning of March and no more snow by about that same time.  That’s what I call a sad winter!  This winter, for me, was at least a little more reminiscent of the winters I remember as a child, especially that super storm when we got 30″!  You just can’t beat the beauty of snow covered trees and white as far as they eye can see.

Now that I have had my little nostalgic moment, why, you may ask, am I talking about snow as we watch the last remaining piles melt away and we officially welcome spring?  Simple. In the water field/business/industry we watch this time of year very closely.  Why?  All that snow out there will melt and become runoff.  How much snow we have, how much it packed down, the daily temperatures, rain events, and, most importantly, what is in the snow are going to influence our streams, rivers, ponds, lakes, and oceans.

When it rains in the summer, we see the rain flow down our roads, driveways, and properties in channels, small rivers, or as a sheet across the land.  When snow melts, it tends to be less obvious how much runoff is happening.  Unless we have a rain storm or a really, really warm day while the snow is still out, we don’t really see too much erosion happening and runoff is usually in small little channels.  But what about whats already in the snow?

This is a great example of what we can see in our snow and how we tend to deal with our snow melt.  This picture, from the Neponset River in MA, shows how a lot of our urban snow is dealt with and how it can influence our surface waters as much as a summer rainstorm.  This snow pile has been made through an entire winter of plowing.  All those wonderful things that are on our roads and parking lots get locked up in a deep freeze for the winter and then, in a few weeks during the spring, are released to our waters.

Let me just take a minute to detail what the water quality of snow melt looks like.  To start with, snow flakes themselves are formed around dust particulates and aerosol pollutants in the atmosphere.  After the snow has reached the earth, it undergoes anything from plowing, to shoveling, to remaining untouched in a field.  In all of these scenarios, the snow pack is subject to continual deposition from urban emissions (sulfates, nitrates, metals) as well as long range transport of pollutants from power plants.  On top of that , studies have found atmospheric deposition from toxic compounds, nutrients,and solids from fossil fuel combustion, incineration, chemical processing, metal plating, and manufacturing (watershed protection techniques).

So, now we know all the hidden terrors that potentially exist in our snowpacks.  The amount of “stuff” in the snow as it begins to melt can be detrimental to surface waters.  If the snow melted very slowly and continually  than these concentrations would be spread out evenly, but that isn’t how it happens.  On top of that, the ground remains frozen for part of this process and infiltration cannot happen, therefore the runoff is guaranteed to make it to a waterbody.

Unfortunately, these processes are not limited to urban areas.  In forested settings, atmospheric deposition still occurs and leaves behind chemicals and toxins, but in far less concentration.  What tends to happen is that trees along the edge of a forest accumulate the toxins in their needles and branches while the inner forest remains far less effected.

Unfortunately, there is not a whole lot we can really do about snowmelt, but it is important to know that the melting snow is contributing an interesting concoction of chemicals to our surface waters.  For more information, see Influences of Snowmelt Dynamics on Stormwater Runoff Quality.