Job #1, Water Quality, May 13
Dear Members, Neighbors and Lake Lovers:
The SLA has long worked to protect the quality for the waters of our beautiful lake. Volunteer teams have, for more than 20 years, plied the waters during the summer taking samples at multiple locations. In 2018, the core sediment analysis report noted some worrisome conclusions including steadily declining dissolved oxygen. At several tributaries draining into the Lake, “high” to “excessive” levels of phosphorous, and “chronic” levels of chloride are regularly detected. E. coli bacteria, which can be harmful to humans and animals at high concentrations, has reared its head from time to time. And in 2020 and 2021 cyanobacteria appeared. The Lake is changing.
Understanding the importance of Spofford Lake to the economic well-being of the Town, the Chesterfield Board of Selectmen (BOS) established in November 2021, a “Watershed Committee,” the purpose of which is to make recommendations to safeguard and improve the watershed of Spofford Lake. Bayard Tracy and Dan Syvertsen, SLA President and Vice President, respectively, are two of the six members. Other members are: Ron Coburn, Charlie Paquette, Brad Roscoe, and BOS representative Judy Idlekope.
One early conclusion of the Watershed Committee is that more needs to be learned about the source(s), volume, and seasonality of contaminants entering the Lake. With the agreement of the BOS, the Watershed Committee requested the SLA Board of Directors to expand its existing Water Quality Monitoring Program (WQMP). The BoD heartily agreed.
To prepare for 2022 (and by the way also respond to the number one concern of members), the SLA engaged FB Environmental (FBE) to work with the SLA’s water quality team, led by Chris Oot, a Spofford Lake resident and career environmental engineer. Specifically, FBE was tasked with making recommendations to ensure the SLA's 2022 WQMP would provide the data needed to support the "Lake Loading Response Model" (LLRM) that FBE developed as part of the 2018 Spofford Lake Watershed Management Plan. FBE is also tasked with updating the the LLRM with the more recent water quality data collected from 2018-2022. The LLRM predicts the impact on the Lake of future development scenarios in the watershed, and is a powerful planning tool for the Town. With that in mind, here's what this year's WQMP will encompass:
So why the focus on total phosphorous? Phosphorous is essential for plant growth. Too much phosphorous in the water promotes excessive plant and algal growth, which in turn absorbs oxygen from the water. Reduced oxygen levels, called anoxia, stress fish populations, for example, trout. Phosphorous comes from many sources including faulty septic systems, lawn fertilizers, road salt, and decaying plant matter.
All the additional data collected in 2022 will add to a better and more robust understanding of the chemical, bacteriological, and physical underpinnings of the Lake, which in turn will undergird any recommendations made by the Watershed Committee to the BOS.
Who is paying for all this testing? The SLA has for years used member dues to underwrite testing. In 2022, the Town of Chesterfield will also chip in to fund these vital efforts to assure the longterm health, economic and recreational, of the Lake and the continuing desirability and value of lakeshore properties. The total estimated tab for this year’s efforts is about $7,000. Please consider joining the SLA or increasing your membership dues level to help us cover this increased expense.
And as if the above were not enough, the State is also doing its part. The 2021 Volunteer Lake Assessment Program report is now available. The State will soon conduct a new bathometric (i.e., depth) survey of Spofford Lake and produce an updated map. The current map can be found here. This will provide yet more information on the ways in which the Lake is changing.
In others news…
The Spofford Lake Association