For the past several years the Winnisquam Watershed Network (WWN) has been working with the Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC) and area partners to lay the groundwork and secure funding to advance the preparation of a watershed management plan for the Winnisquam watershed. Our watershed is being impacted by increasing recreational activity and development pressure, while at the same time struggling with the effects of climate change and threats from invasive species. In order to maintain the high quality of our lakes, it is of vital importance that we as a watershed community recognize the potential impacts of those changes and have in place a long-term strategy to address them.
I am excited to let you know that our efforts to advance such a strategy for the Winnisquam watershed have finally paid off. The NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) Watershed Assistance Section and US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently identified the Winnisquam watershed management plan as a proactive means of meeting water quality goals, and approximately $80,000 in EPA funding has been allocated to complete the plan. A consulting team comprised of FB Environmental of Dover NH and the Horsley Witten Group out of Sandwich MA has been engaged by EPA’s Region 1 office to develop a Watershed Based Plan for the Winnisquam Watershed that meets watershed planning and implementation requirements for the federal Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 319 Program. Work on the project will begin this month and a draft plan will be completed in about a year.
The watershed based management plan will identify and quantify sources of pollutants to Lake Winnisquam, determine the water quality goals and the pollutant reductions needed to meet those goals, and identify best management practices and protection strategies to be implemented in the watershed to achieve the pollutant reductions needed. In other words, it will provide a road map for the WWN, communities and stakeholders in the watershed to follow in order to protect the high quality of Lake Winnisquam and the smaller lakes in our watershed, including Opechee and Wicwas. It will also make future implementation projects eligible for federal CWA funding.
This project represents a huge step forward toward protecting our lake and it would not have come about without the commitment of our WWN membership and dedicated team of volunteers. According to Jeff Marcoux of NHDES’s Watershed Assistance Section “NHDES has long been aware of the value of comprehensive watershed planning and wanted to apply that strategic tool to the Winnisquam watershed, but there needed to be a unifying party that could coalesce all of the great local partners and help get the project rolling. Through conversations with WWN it became clear that the group was very capable, committed, and ideally suited to fulfilling that role. Because WWN and LRPC had already done a great deal of watershed planning groundwork, we were able to capitalize on the surprise availability of EPA funds and put together a project scope with very little advance notice. If it weren’t for all of that initial effort from the WWN volunteers, we just wouldn’t have been in a position to act so quickly, and we would have missed this great opportunity. ”
The WWN will be working closely with the consultant team and local stakeholders throughout the planning process and will be sure to keep you updated as the project progresses. A public workshop will be scheduled sometime in the next several months to discuss the development of the Lake Winnisquam Watershed Based Plan and to solicit input from the public on their goals and interests. In the interim please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or to let us know your thoughts as to specific issues the plan should address.
For more information:
What is a watershed:
LRPC map of the Winnisquam watershed:
EPA Overview on the Watershed Planning Process:
EPA’s Quick Guide to Developing Watershed Plans to Restore and Protect Our Waters