Over the last ten years, AWWA’s Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) program has been a visible and successful program. The YCC was formed by a small group of individuals dedicated to protecting the pristine lakes of Wakefield, NH and Acton, ME. In 2005 it became clear that if the lakes in this region, our economic engine, were at risk of becoming polluted to the point of damaging the ecology and economy of the area. The YCC was formed to combat this erosion and spread awareness of nutrient loading in lakes, as well as ways to stop it.
By organizing the YCC program, AWWA was able to “put shovels in the ground” and make an immediate impact on the water quality of the local lakes. With this flagship program, AWWA has been able to convey the message of the importance of water quality, how to deal with erosion issues, how to engage and educate property owners, all while providing summer jobs to local youths.
The 2015 YCC season was no exception. Building on the previous nine years, the YCC was able to complete 22 projects across nine different waterbodies in the Wakefield and Acton region. The crew worked diligently for eight and a half weeks starting at the end of June and working into late August. The crew and experienced crew leaders were able to install 86 Best Management Practices (BMPs) which are the landscaped features designed to slow down runoff, divert it away from the lakes, and infiltrate the runoff into the ground before it reaches the lake. These 86 BMPs are estimated to stop 24.9 tons of sediment and 21.9 pounds of phosphorus from entering the lakes annually. It is this sediment, and the associated phosphorus, that can cause water quality to decline and lead to more frequent algal blooms.
In addition to the 22 projects the YCC completed, the Technical Director conducted 36 technical assistance (TA) visits. These technical assistance visits are the first step to having the YCC work on homeowners’ properties. The Technical Director and homeowner walk the property, discuss usages, identify erosion issues, and work through potential fixes. After this meeting, homeowners receive a packet of information with a design that they can use to install BMPs themselves, hire a contractor, or become a Project Host for the YCC program.
The 2015 season was loaded with projects with the primary focus on completing projects on Province Lake and Wilson Lake, as well as the Maine side of Great East Lake. The YCC was successful in completing this task! It would not have been such a success without the dedication and hard work, day in and day out, from the committed crew and crew leaders. Crew leaders were Jordan Shepherd who finished his 7th season with AWWA and Seth Fogg who was in his second year of leading the crew and fourth year overall. AWWA was happy to welcome back past crew members Dan Crowley, who returned for his 3rd year, as well as Justine Short and Marrissa Williams who returned for their second summer in a row. The YCC was also excited to bring on Ryan Shannon, Kailey Sonricker, and Zack Stadtfeld for their first summer with the YCC. Thank you to all AWWA staff, crew, crew leaders, and everyone who helped make this season a wonderful success.