Who could have imagined AWWA would have come so far in twelve years? In November 2004 a small group of lake association members gathered together, worried about a report of failing water quality in nearby Mousam Lake, to talk about how to keep the lakes of Wakefield and Acton from suffering the same fate. Since that time AWWA has built partnerships with the lake associations, towns, businesses, property owners, state and local agencies, road associations, land conservation groups and students to protect water quality throughout our region. Wow, do we have a lot going on!
Shorefront Property Owners are the Key to Healthy Lakes
AWWA’s Youth Conservation Corps had another successful season in 2016 installing 67 erosion control landscape features at 17 project sites on 8 waterbodies. This brings the total to 823 features at 211 project sites on 12 waterbodies. Not bad for just 11 eight-week seasons! We have high expectations for 2017.
The Residential Property Self-Assessment Quiz will be distributed online to shorefront property owners to encourage them to seek assistance from AWWA’s technical assistance program and teach them about the effects of eroding landscapes on water quality.
On a new initiative, AWWA is focusing in on how septic systems can affect water quality. On Province Lake, AWWA offered free septic evaluations and is now accepting applications for a cost-share program to assist with upgrades of poorly functioning systems. If you have a home on Province Lake and would like to know more please contact Linda at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 603-473-2500.
All of the shorefront residents on Great East and Wilson lakes received a survey about their septic systems and information about how to keep a system healthy. Over 30% responded on both lakes giving the lake associations and towns a good start on understanding the status of wastewater treatment around the lakes and where education should be targeted.
The Province Lake Golf Course has enrolled in the Audubon Cooperative Sanctuary Program for Golf Courses with a goal to enhance the valuable natural areas and wildlife habitats that golf courses provide, improve efficiency, and minimize potentially harmful impacts of golf course operations. AWWA is excited to be a partner in this endeavor along with experts from many disciplines of water quality protection.
Partnering to Reduce Road Runoff Pollution
Through grants with both NHDES and Maine DEP, AWWA was able to partner with the towns and road associations to prevent tons of sediment and pounds of phosphorus from getting into Great East, Province and Wilson lakes.
In 2017, AWWA will partner with the Lakeside Drive Road Association, Abbott Road/Jericho Way Association, Great East Lake Improvement Association and Maine DEP to fix chronic road issues that are dispensing polluted runoff into Great East Lake. In addition, efforts will continue on Province Lake, working with the towns of Effingham and Wakefield, Province Lake Association and road associations to minimize erosion issues along the roadways of Province Lake.
The Town of Wakefield exemplifies proper maintenance of the multiple project sites along Brackett Road on Lovell Lake’s north shore as part of its grant agreement with AWWA and NHDES. Brackett Road serves as an excellent example of efficient and cost-effective methods to control gravel road runoff.
It’s All About the Message
While on the ground fixes are the key to pollution reduction it is equally as important that the message that water quality protection begins on land resonates throughout our communities. With engaging workshops, lively roundtables, on-the-water trainings and school programs, AWWA was able to reach new audiences and share our love of healthy lakes.
Invasive aquatic species are a threat to all our lakes but we are better prepared for battle after 34 people from 10 lakes attended the Lake Association Invasive Species Roundtable with AWWA and the York County Invasive Aquatic Species Project in May. They got their hands wet identifying native versus invasive plants and sharing their lake association’s strategies for invasive aquatic species control.
Spreading the knowledge beyond the borders of the AWWA region was a big success with the Moose Mountains Regional Greenways and AWWA sponsored Lake Association Meet & Greet. Participants, representing 18 groups, learned about connections between land use and water quality and the latest in cyanobacteria research.
Cyanobacteria, naturally occurring organisms in all lakes, can be harmful to human health and wildlife if overly abundant. Cyanobacteria blooms when conditions are favorable including an excess of nutrients. Much of AWWA’s work focuses on reducing nutrient levels in our lakes. In an effort to learn more about the condition of cyanobacteria in our lakes, AWWA sponsored a visit from the EPA Cyanobacteria Monitoring Collective’s CyanoMobile. 27 people from 12 organizations learned how to identify cyanobacteria, monitor for cyano levels and report suspicious blooms. Our area is among the most informed in the country!
Working with students in the Wakefield Paul School and Acton Elementary School is one of our favorite activities. We bring hands-on lessons to the kids that connect them to their natural world and offer “ah-ha” moments that will stick with them for the long-term. AWWA’s staff and volunteers share their interest in aquatic bugs, water chemistry, watershed science and invasive species with the 6th through 8th grades for many memorable moments.
In 2017 AWWA will be spearheading a new “Trout in the Classroom” program with the Wakefield Paul School 4th grades in partnership with NH Fish and Game and the Norcross Wildlife Foundation. Students will learn about trout ecology and raise them from eggs to fry. In May, they will release the baby trout into a local stream. What fun!
AWWA’s unique approach – working with multiple agencies across state lines boundaries – has resulted in widespread attention. We have been invited to present at local, state and even nationwide conferences to showcase how our “clean water begins on land” message has succeeded. Linda Schier was awarded a prestigious award – the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment Visionary Award. This award would not have happened without the support of our dedicated Board of Directors and our members. Thank you for helping to make AWWA an organization worth recognizing.
And the Science
AWWA works closely with the lake associations, the UNH Lakes Lay Monitoring Program, the Maine Volunteer Lakes Monitoring Program and the NHDES Volunteer Rivers Assessment Program to ensure that consistent reliable water quality data is gathered, analyzed and reported on. Our volunteers spend countless hours sampling, measuring, and recording in a wide range of conditions throughout the sampling season. We can’t do it without them. If you’d like to get involved be sure to get in touch. We’ll find a job for you.
It is only with the unyielding support of our communities that AWWA can continue to do the essential year round work of assuring that the focus on healthy waters doesn’t diminish. The lakes can’t speak in a language our communities understand but AWWA can. Please click the “Donate” button at the top of the page – AWwatersheds.org – to send your tax-deductible contribution today and help us make the next 12 years a success – the lakes can’t do it without you!
Special Thanks to Our Generous Sponsors for 2016:
Adelard and Valeda Roy Foundation
Alden N. Young Trust
Jane B Cook 1983 Charitable Trust
Town of Wakefield, NH
Town of Acton, ME
And all of our very generous individual donors. YOU!!