Exciting Partnerships to Protect Water Quality

The word is out that keeping the lakes healthy must be a high priority for the towns, lake associations and citizens of the Acton and Wakefield communities. GELIA and the Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance, town officials, local businesses and regional and state agencies are working together on some exciting programs to ensure that Great East, as well as the other lakes in the region, maintain their high quality waters status for future generations.

GELIA commissioned a study of the sedimentation problem in the Scribner Brook which resulted in a recommendation to replace the existing undersized culvert at Acton Ridge Road with an open-bottom embedded culvert and stormwater drainage improvements along the roadway. This project will greatly reduce the sediment washing off the road into the brook and enhance fish and wildlife passage. AWWA helped the Town of Wakefield apply for a grant to fund the project which will be announced in December. If that proposal is not successful AWWA will continue to work with GELIA and the Town to seek other funding.

Stormwater management regulations in both Acton and Wakefield need some strengthening according to the Salmon Falls Headwater Lakes Watershed Management Plan. In an effort to address that weakness, the Acton and Wakefield planning boards have agreed to work across town and state boundaries to find new strategies to better manage stormwater throughout the communities. The towns were approved for a Community Technical Assistance Program (CTAP) grant from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) to work with a consultant to develop stormwater management recommendations for each town based on existing regulations and community needs. This project will highlight the benefits of best management practices for both the communities and the landowners while building support for the concept that property rights, property responsibilities and natural resource protection are not competing goals but rather common interests.

The AWWA Youth Conservation Corps had another busy season controlling erosion on residential properties. To date they have installed 264 erosion control practices (also called BMPs) at 82 project sites. 18 of those sites are on Great East Lake with 63 BMPs that will prevent over 22 tons of sediment flowing into the lake each year. When you see an AWWA YCC sign in your neighborhood stop in for a tour and get some ideas for your own property. Erosion control not only prevents erosion but looks great too. Many thanks to Raise-A-Dock, Great East Docks and AppleCore Docks for their generous support of this year’s YCC crew.

One project as part of AWWA’s third Watershed Assistance grant from the NH Department of Environmental Services is working with the UNH Stormwater Center to address erosion problems along gravel roads and plans to work with the Maine Department of Environmental Services and York County Soil & Water Conservation District to solve some serious road issues on the Acton side of the lake in 2012.

The lake associations of the area are working closely with AWWA to address recommendations from the watershed plan. Protecting the lakes takes all hands on deck and we are so fortunate to have such willing and able partners at all levels. Big construction projects and improved policies are important but the most essential piece is each individual landowner’s commitment to practicing lake friendly behaviors. Do your part to be a Clean Lake Partner. Visit www.AWwatersheds.org for ideas on how you can make a difference.