We Have A Responsibility to Take Care of Our Lakes

Protecting the rural character of our town is important

By Lee Wells

April 7 was a great day. While walking on Emery Road I saw my first Great Blue Heron, and later on Maple Street I heard my first Loon of the season. I was reminded that despite these difficult times, we are remarkably fortunate to be living in such a good community in such a beautiful corner of the earth.  Despite being under stay-at-home orders, we can practice social distancing and still get outdoors, walk in the woods or along our country roads and the Rail Trail, and enjoy the beauty of Andover.

Along with our good fortune comes the responsibility to take care of and protect the natural beauty and rural character of our town.

It is important to remember that we all live downstream from someone, and upstream from someone else. What others do on their property or on our rivers and lakes impacts us, and what we do on our property and on our lakes and rivers can impact others. All of us need to take care of our natural resources.

During early spring and mud season we should sweep our driveways, walkways, and steps to remove leftover sand. Sand washed into our lakes and streams can cause all sorts of problems with our lakes and rivers. Sand can destroy fish spawning or nesting sites, and sand particles suspended in the water can clog fish gills. Deposited sand also causes water bodies to become shallower, often facilitating plant and algal growth. While having some plants and algae in a lake is a good thing, too much of either is not good for the health of the lake or our enjoyment of the lake.

Survey your property for areas where runoff water has caused erosion. Take a walk around your property to see if recent rains have created any gullies or other eroded areas. If possible, fix eroded areas before the next rainstorm occurs.

Remove storm debris in accordance with the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act. If your property is located within 250 feet of a lake or river, downed and damaged trees and trees posing an imminent hazard or threat may be felled and removed. But be sure to leave the stumps in the ground, since stumps do a very good job preventing soil from being eroded off of the landscape and polluting the water (and it is also illegal to remove the stumps). 

Trees and storm debris from severe weather events can be removed from water bodies. If on-shore equipment is necessary for the removal of debris from a water body, be sure to monitor the equipment for fluid leakage and use temporary work pads to lessen the impacts to the shoreline. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services recommends that property owners take photographs of damaged trees and structures for documentation. It is not allowed for heavy equipment to come into contact with the water.

Reduce your use of fertilizer. Not only does fertilizer make your lawn green, when applied in excess or too close to the water it also makes your lake green with algae. State regulations prohibit the use of all fertilizers, except limestone, within 25 feet of the high water mark of water bodies.

Have your septic system inspected once a year. Have your tank pumped every two to three years.

Keep shorelines clean by not feeding waterfowl. Waterfowl waste contains phosphorus and nitrogen which contributes to undesirable algal blooms and also lots of bacteria and possibly parasites, which can make swimmers sick.

Wash boats, cars, and pets away from water bodies. Soaps and shampoos will add nutrients and other pollutants to the lake.

Remove hitchhiking plants and animals from boats and trailers – clean, drain, and dry. Aquatic invasives make recreation in and on the water dangerous and unpleasant, disrupt the ecological balance of lakes, reduce shoreline property values, are difficult and expensive to control, and are almost impossible to get rid of.

Join our local lake protection groups and New Hampshire Lakes.

Please visit the New Hampshire Lakes website at NHLakes.org and consider signing up for their newsletter.