Dear Members, Neighbors & Lake Lovers,
On behalf of the Spofford Lake Association, I hope this note finds you and your family healthy and safe. During the fall, we communicated with you regularly on the unique challenge of the cyanobacteria bloom. With the 'season' ending, I thought it useful now to report on all the good work being done and the progress being made by the Spofford Lake Association volunteers.
Water Level: A number of factors are at play. The weather is getting warmer, earlier. According to NOAA, the year 2020 was among the three hottest and driest summers of the last 60 years. In the last 90 years, the four earliest ice-out days have occurred since 2002. Indeed, ice-out occurred very early this spring. As a result of the drought, the Lake's water level fell 10.5 inches from mid-May to mid-October, and is believed to have had a contributory effect on the overall health of the Lake. Surely, the low water created docking and launching hardships for boaters, and a new set of obstacles for kayakers.Water Quality: Protecting and improving the quality of Spofford Lake's clean, clear water for everyone is the SLA's purpose and the focus of our activities. As water quality is influenced by a web of factors, some man-made and some natural, from increasing phosphorous levels to volume of rain to the introduction of invasive species, our work is and will continue to be multi-faceted. COVID cutbacks at state labs has resulted in reduced water samplings this year, dropping from 4 to 2. That said, the water remains clear, and low in phosphorus and chlorophyll. Winter road salting, however, continues to take an adverse toll on the Lake's chemistry.
Cyanobacteria: The hot, sunny, dry days, and the natural clarity of Spofford Lake along with the increased agitation of the water are, according to NH DES, among the principal causes of September's cyanobacteria bloom. The SLA took swift action with State authorities and retained Green Water Labs to identify the bloom, and to alert homeowners and recreational users of the Lake of the potential danger. Fortunately, the bloom was not toxic, and has abated. DES continues to advise that the Lake be actively monitored for new blooms in 2021.Invasive Species: Funded by the SLA and the Chesterfield Conservation Commission, “The Lake Host Program” seeks to prevent the introduction of invasive plants and animals into the Lake. Milfoil has “infected” any number of lakes in NH and surrounding areas. Lake Hosts were on duty from June 1st to October 18th and by their count inspected a record 6,823 launches, a 22% increase, or 1,229 more boats than last year.
In compliment to the Lake Hosts, our 25 local volunteer “Weed Watchers” completed their twice/summer inspections and found no invasive plants near the shoreline. Moreover, SLA again commissioned Solitude Lake Management to conduct an annual survey of the Lake. It too found no evidence invasive species.
Milfoil is a wily aquatic plant and despite our best efforts may find its way into beautiful Spofford Lake. Therefore, SLA has established the 'Spofford Lake Preservation Fund' with an initial investment of $50,000. The fund's purpose is to contribute to any future remediation costs of invasive and harmful plants, animals and organisms.
Reducing Runoff and its Impacts: SLA is committed to reducing runoff and its myriad impacts. This spring, Plymouth State's Center for the Environment produced an SLA funded study of the Lake bottom, a 'Core Sediment Analysis'. The results showed low levels of dissolved oxygen (DO), which are very likely the result of decaying organic materials eroding into the lake. Erosion is enhanced by higher lake water levels caused by damming the Lake over the past 200 years. DO levels are tested monthly in the summer and fall by SLA supplied equipment. Under a DES/EPA 319 Grant, nine shoreline properties are making recommended investments to reduce storm water run-off. Working with the Southwest Regional Planning Commission, the SLA has applied for a second $80,000 grant, this one focused on reducing run-off from Route 9 and improving the boat ramp.
Partnership: The Town of Chesterfield, with Spofford Lake Association support, has taken important, substantial and concrete actions to improve and preserve the Lake. These include: (1) creating the Spofford Lake Zoning District, (2) with the NH DOT, reducing winter salt usage on roads surrounding the Lake, (3) enacting a new health ordinance for septic systems in the Lake District, and (4) creating the ‘Spofford Lake Control and Redemption of Invasive Species Expendable Trust Fund’ with an initial contribution of $10,000. Taken together, these create a very valuable framework which will benefit the Lake for years to come.
Over the past 11 months, the work of the SLA, in partnership with the Town of Chesterfield and the NH DES have, we believe, helped to protect, enhance, and sustain the character of beautiful Spofford Lake for everyone. We invite you to help us in the future. If you are already one of our members, thank you for your generosity and willingness to help. If you are not yet a member, or have not made a contribution for 2020, please make an online donation at our secure website, spoffordlakeassociation.org or send a check to PO Box 177, Spofford, NH 03462. Remember, your donations are tax-deductible. Thank you in advance for your support.
With best regards,
Bayard Tracy, President