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Vote Results, Boat Ramp Update, Total Phosphorous, and a View from Concord. March 21 

Dear Members, Friends, and Lake Lovers: 

Town Vote Results:  On March 12, the Town vote was held. We are delighted that Town residents approved all three ‘stormwater runoff’ initiatives.  More than 70% of voting residents agreed that managing runoff warranted approval of the three ordinance changes covering pervious paving, surface water management, and driveway permits.  Thank you to all who voted yes.  We appreciate your support.

The SLA also extends its congratulations to the newly-elected members of the Board of Selectmen Barbara Girs and Mary Ewell, who were elected for 1 and 3 year terms, respectively.  Gary Winn (re-elected) will join current members Judy Idlekope and Fran Shippee to form the team of five, an increase of two over the previous team.  

Ice Out Winner:  Congratulations 🎉 🎉 to Kate Eklund, winner of the 2024 SLA Ice Out Lottery.  The official Ice Out Date was March 11.  Kate correctly predicted that the ice would be out pretty early this year.  Her prize is $290.00. 

Boat Ramp Parking Lot Update: Despite the hiccup in scheduling last fall, we are pleased to advise that preliminary construction is scheduled to begin on Monday, April 22.  It is expected to last for four days. The start date and duration are, of course, weather dependent.  During this time, boaters may park their cars and trailers at Ware's Grove.  This work is funded by a 319 stormwater runoff grant secured by the SLA.  

Water Quality VLAP Test Results:  The 2023 VLAP (NH Voluntary Lake Assessment Program) is in.  The results are generally consistent with prior years, but there are some worrying trends in the areas of conductivity, chloride levels, transparency, and Total Phosphorous (TP).  

Many important parameters are classified as “Good.”  Bacteria levels at the beaches and the boat ramp were well below NH State standards.  Average Chlorophyl-A levels (a measure of algal growth) were less than the State median; water clarity was generally good; and pH levels were in the desirable range.  

On the worrisome front were conductivity and chloride levels.  Both were higher than the state median levels.  Historical trend analysis indicates significantly worsening conductivity levels since monitoring began.  Typical contributors to conductivity and chloride levels are road salt, faulty septic systems, and water softeners.  Elevated TP has been consistently detected at several tributary sampling stations and at the Deep Spot.  

The level of TP, the most important parameter affecting long-term health, is a particular concern.  Total phosphorous is a “limiting element” for plant and algal growth.  Excessive TP can lead to harmful algae blooms such as cyanobacteria and accelerated plant growth which, in turn, consumes dissolved oxygen in the Lake thereby directly stressing the ability of important fish species to survive.  

The 2018 Spofford Lake Watershed Management Plan (WMP), prepared by FB Environmental, contained a Lake Loading Response Model (LLRM).  The LLRM determines the major sources of phosphorous in the Lake and predicts future loads under various development scenarios.  The 2018 LLRM report qualified the findings due to limited sampling data.  The SLA supported by the Town, has since funded a significantly more robust Water Quality Management Program (WQMP) to collect additional data.  With this new and additional data (2014-2023), the LLRM was updated in 2023 to create a “LLRM 2.0.”  The results show a significant increase in the estimated internal TP loading.  Specifically, the updated LLRM estimated three-fold increase in internal phosphorous loading from 14 kg/yr (6%) in 2017 to 42 kg/yr (~19%).

LLRM 2.0 now estimates that watershed runoff combined with baseflow contributes 46% of the TP load to the Lake, followed by atmospheric deposition (20%), internal loading (19%), septic system (12%), and waterfowl (3%).  

Here’s a quick primer on the process of internal phosphorus loading and its impacts on Spofford Lake:

  • Due to soil erosion and runoff, the volume of phosphorus-laden sediment at the bottom of the Lake has increased significantly over the past four decades.
  • Under normal (aerobic) conditions where DO levels are  > 1mg/l,the phosphorus would remain chemically bonded to the sediment thereby having limited impact.
  • During summer months, the dissolved oxygen at the lower levels of the Lake is consumed by plant and aquatic life.  Generally, by August, the DO concentrations at the deepest portions of the Lake sink to <1mg/L.  When this happens, the chemical bond attaching the phosphorus to the sediment is no longer strong enough and phosphorus is released into the Lake.  This is referred to as internal loading.
  • Internal loading is a significant source of phosphorus (~19%) for Spofford Lake and can contribute to the development of harmful algal blooms, e.g., cyanobacteria.

FBE has recommended changes to our program, including a further expansion of our water testing program. The SLA Water Quality team and the Town Watershed Committee are reviewing the suggestions.  Stay tuned for their decisions.

Pinnacle Springs Stormwater Runoff Management:  The planning phase of the project is underway and includes a physical inventory of the properties in the area.  Owners may receive a request from the civil engineering firm, Horsley Witten, for permission to walk and note the properties' characteristics. 

Lake-Impacting Initiatives in Concord:  Here’s an update, drawn largely from NH LAKES on the status of various bills in the NH legislature.  For details, check out and  You still have time to express your positions on these bills.  Contact our state representatives:

Michael Abbott, or 603-336-7090

Cathryn Harvey, or 603-363-4424

and our state senator:

Donovan Fenton, or 603-271-7875

Summary Updates

HB=House Bill; SB=Senate Bill; RRDC=Resource, Recreation and Development Committee; DES=Department of Environmental Services; SENRC=Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

--HB 1301 would enable a group of 25 or more residents or property owners of a town in which a lake, pond, or river is located to petition the NH Department of Safety to restrict or prohibit wakesurfing on the lake, pond, or river, or portion of the waterbody.

The RRDC considered several motions that ended in tie votes so this bill will go to the House Floor with no recommendation, wherein the bill and an amendment will be discussed and voted on by the full House of Representatives.

Comment: This bill is consistent with the current petition and public hearing process available for other uses of our lakes.  If enacted, it would give the residents and property owners of Chesterfield the means to seek sensible restrictions for wakesurfing on Spofford Lake.  Wakesurfing poses a significant safety and environmental threat when conducted in shallow areas and/or too close to the shore.  Scientific studies indicate that wakesurfing is inappropriate within 500 feet of the shore and in waters less than 20 feet deep.

--HB 1390 would limit the operation of wakeboats and their use in wakesports on public waters of the state outside of a wakesports zone defined as at least 50 acres of water that is 500 feet from shore and more than 20 feet deep.  The RRDC considered several motions that failed but ultimately recommended the bill as Ought to Pass with an amendment providing a 300 foot setback, minimum 50 acres, but no depth requirement.  The bill did not go on the consent calendar and will be discussed on the House Floor.

Comment: Scientific studies indicate that to preclude or otherwise mitigate wakesurfing’s damaging effects, it should only be conducted at least 500 feet from the shore and at depths of at least 20 feet. While a 300 foot setback is a step in the right direction, it is not sufficient.

--SB 431 would restrict wakesurfing on a public body of water, wherein no person could engage in wakesurfing on a body of water that is less than 50 acres in size or within 200 feet of a shoreline, dock, pier, boathouse, or other boats or on a portion of a body of water with a width, measured from the nearest shoreline to the second nearest shoreline, of less than 400 feet.

The Senate Transportation Committee has not yet made a recommendation.

Comment: A 200 foot setback is inadequate.  As indicated above, the science supports limiting wakesurfing to areas at least 500 feet from the shoreline and having a depth of at least 20 feet.

--HB 1103 would remove certain impediments to DES’s ability to seek penalties and fines for proven violations of the Shoreland Protection Act.  There is no change in the size of the fees for penalties.  

The RRDC unanimously recommended the bill as Ought to Pass and the bill was placed on the House Consent calendar.  It is now before the SENCR. 

--HB 1143, would allow the DES to monitor, manage, and reduce the risk of cyanobacteria blooms and directs DES to reduce, control, and prevent the nutrient inputs which cause cyanobacteria blooms.  Watch the January 2024 DES webinar on the current NH Cyanobacteria Plan here.

RRDC recommended Ought to Pass with Amendment and the bill as amended was placed on the House consent calendar. It has been referred to the SENRC.

--HB 1229 would require buyers, lessees, and transferees of shoreland property to acknowledge a minimum requirements document for compliance with the Shoreland Protection Act, wherein the buyers, lessees, and transferees would need to acknowledge and sign that they have read and understood the document.

The RRDC referred the bill for interim study and as such was placed on the House consent calendar.

--HB 1304 would bring New Hampshire into compliance with federal regulations concerned with the collection of boat registration fees.  Passage of this bill would protect federal funding for Marine Patrol and provide NH with a way to collect fees to support critical programs, including for aquatic invasive species prevention and management.

The Transportation Committee recommended as Ought to Pass with Amendment, the bill was consented to by the House, and then referred to the Finance Committee.

Comment: There is an effort on the federal level to change the Federal regulations such that the change would bring NH’s current method for collecting boat registration fees into compliance therewith, thus rendering this bill moot.

--HB 1360 as amended in Committee would give the Department of Safety emergency authority to establish no wake zones in the public and coastal waters for up to 10 days due to extreme weather or environmental conditions.

RRDC recommended Ought to Pass with amendment and the bill as amended was placed on the House consent calendar.

--HB 1409 would repeal the prohibition for the overnight mooring of houseboats.

RRDC recommended as Inexepedient to Legislate and the House voted to indefinitely postpone (i.e., the bill was killed).

Suggestions?:  We are looking for your ideas on topics that might be covered in an upcoming Lake Lover Gazette.  Please email us your thoughts.  Thanks.

Kind regards, 

The Spofford Lake Association

Spofford Lake Association

PO Box 177
Spofford, NH 03462

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