DES Announces Change to Lake Waukewan Date and Depth of 2010 drawdown
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) announces a revision to the Notice of Decision on the Interim Operating Level for Lake Waukewan. In the April 12, 2010 decision, DES indicated that the drawdown would commence on November 1 and that the level would be slowly lowered to an elevation of 538.0. The original date and depth of the drawdown were set to try to maintain the summer recreation level through the month of October and to provide for a greater capacity to store spring snow melt and rainfall runoff. This was based upon, in part, on information on the historic operation of the dam on Lake Waukewan that indicated that the previous owner used to draw down the lake to an elevation between 537.0 and 538.0 each year.
During the public meetings on the Interim Operating Level held this summer, and in public comments that DES has received since the meetings, concerns have been expressed on the depth of the drawdown. In addition, the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department prefers that any drawdown be performed earlier to avoid potential impacts to amphibians and other organisms that burrow and begin to hibernate in shallow areas in the fall and could be vulnerable if these areas are exposed to predators and freezing temperatures due to a later drawdown.
In consideration of these concerns, DES has determined that a modification to the April 2010 Notice of Decision is warranted. The 2010 drawdown will commence on Monday, October 11, the date at which drawdowns begin in most of the lakes in New Hampshire. In addition, the target drawdown level will be 538.5, which is approximately the level to which the lake was drawn down in 2009 with no reported or observed negative effects. Analyses performed by DES as well as detailed observations of the lake levels over the past three years indicate that the level of Lake Waukewan can easily rise over 1.5 feet during normal spring inflow because of the limited discharge capacity of the dam. Therefore, a drawdown level of 538.5 is appropriate to reduce the chance of shoreline flooding. The drawdown may also reduce winter ice damage to shoreline properties and could give property owners an opportunity to conduct any necessary repairs to their waterfront property, provided they first secure a permit from the DES Wetlands Bureau.
It is important to note that the summer’s dry conditions have caused current water levels to drop below the summer 2010 recreational level of 539.5. As such, the initial phase of the drawdown that begins after Columbus Day will occur slowly so that shorefront property owners and other users can take whatever measures necessary to remove boats or otherwise secure their properties. Also, if inflows increase between the date of this release and Columbus Day, the lake will be allowed to climb to the 539.5 level to facilitate both end-of-season recreation and the removal of boats.
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