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Homeowner's Guide

As homeowners in the Spofford Lake Watershed District (SLWD), we are among the very few and fortunate who have an immediate impact on our clean and beautiful glacial lake.   We are the frontline stewards of Spofford Lake.  That ‘privilege’ comes with a greater responsibility to tend to Spofford, to preserve, protect, and sustain the Lake's environmental ecological and recreational character for current and future generations. 

This page houses information, both recommended practices and legal obligations, about which all homeowners should be aware.  Some of the information has been mailed directly to watershed homeowners as part of our "Do You Know" mailing campaign begun in May 2022.  

Beaches & Sand, Docks, Swim Lines

We’ve devoted a whole web page to these topics.  Click here to read more.

Land and Lawn Management

Where can I learn about managing vegetation on my property? 

Check out the DES Fact Sheet on Vegetation Management for Water Quality in the orange sidebar.  To contact DES, email  shoreland@des.nh.gov or call (603) 271-2147. 

Why is important to maintain trees and shrubs on my property?

Plants help remove oil, heavy metal, fertilizers, and other matter from storm runoff before they enter Spofford Lake.  Shrubs and trees also provide habitat, shade, and food for birds, insects, and even fish.

The best vegetation for healthy waterbodies is native plants as they are better adapted to the local environment and have more robust roots systems.  Examples are oaks, pines, willows, and blueberry bushes.  These plants slow down, absorb, and purify stormwater better than plants with shallow roots like lawns and mulched garden beds.  

What rules have the State put in place? 

Spofford Lake is a State waterbody.  To protect the surrounding area, the Shoreland Protection Water Quality Act regulates the removal of ground cover, shrubs, and trees within 250 feet of the water.   The first 50 feet from the water is known as the ‘waterfront buffer’.  The next 100 feet is the ‘woodland buffer.’  Different rules, including the necessity of a permit, apply within each buffer zone.  

  • Within 50 feet of the shoreline, except for a six foot wide path, ground cover and shrubs may not be removed and replaced with landscaping or lawn, 
  • Pruning only the bottom 1/3 of trees is recommended,
  • Property owners must maintain a minimum tree and sapling point score, and 
  • No fertilizer may be applied within 25 feet of the shoreline within in the woodland buffer zone.  See DES informational piece "Please Don't Fertilize Our Lakes." 
  • At least 25% of the woodland buffer must be managed as a natural woodland. 

Septic Systems and Maintenance

Septic systems, permitted and well-functioning, are required in the Spofford Lake District.  Click here to be taken to our web page with plenty of useful information. 

What other ways, can I as a property owner, help protect and improve Spofford’s water quality?

Take time to understand the Lake's vulnerabilities and what steps you might take to maintain and improve Spofford Lake's water quality. Visit our pages on Water Quality and Stormwater Runoff.  

Take action:

  • minimize runoff on your property by implementing "Soak Up the Rain" practices,
  • participate in LakeSmart by taking the free self-evaluation.  Use Lake Smart Service Provider for any suggested remedial action.  
  • watch the Lake-Friendly Living webinar series for helpful tips.
  • pump your septic system regularly and visit the SLA’s septic system web page,
  • rather than adding sand to your existing beach, consider constructing a perched beach Adding sand to beaches only encourages “lake aging”, plant growth (and resulting decay), can introduce new nutrients/contaminants into the lake that may result in higher phosphorous and lower dissolved oxygens levels, and makes it ever shallower for all boat traffic.  
  • use lake and lawn safe products 
  • use  septic safe, and lake friendly cleaning products as they have low/no phosphates and chlorine/chloride.


Page created May 26, 2022




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Spofford Lake Association

PO Box 177
Spofford, NH 03462

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