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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE: September 8, 2016
CONTACT: Dan Mattaini, (603) 271-8867

UPDATED from original release
State Announces Its 2016 Fall Drawdown of Lakes

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) announced today that the annual fall drawdown of the lakes and ponds controlled by dams owned by NHDES will be initiated according to the schedule below.

LAKE RIVER TOWN START
DATE

DEPTH
(in feet)
FROM FULL

Angle Pond

Bartlett Brook

Sandown

Oct. 10

2’

Akers Pond

Greenough Brook

Errol

Oct. 10

1’

Ayers Lake

Tributary to Isinglass River

Barrington

Oct. 20

3’

Ballard Pond

Taylor Brook

Derry

Oct. 10

2’

Barnstead Parade

Suncook River

Barnstead

Oct. 10

1.5’

Bow Lake

Isinglass River

Strafford

Oct. 10

4’

Burns Lake

Tributary to Johns River

Whitefield

Oct. 10

1.3’

Chandler Pond1

Mill Brook

Landaff

Oct. 10

7’

Chesham Pond

Minnewawa Brook

Harrisville

Oct. 10

4’ to 2’

Crystal Lake

Crystal Lake Brook

Enfield

Oct. 10

4’

Crystal Lake

Suncook River

Gilmanton

Oct. 10

3’

Deering Reservoir

Piscataquog River

Deering

Oct. 10

4’

East Washington Pond2

Beards Brook

Washington

Oct. 10

2’

Glen Lake/Greggs Falls3

Piscataquog River

Goffstown

Oct. 22

1.5’

Goose Pond

Goose Pond Brook

Canaan

Oct. 10

7.5’

Grafton Pond

Bicknell Brook

Grafton

Oct. 10

2’

Great East Lake

Salmon Falls River

Wakefield

Oct. 1

3’

Great Pond

Powwow River

Kingston

Oct. 10

1’

Highland Lake

North Branch Contoocook River

Stoddard

Oct. 10

3’

Horace Lake (aka Weare Reservoir)

Piscataquog River

Weare

Oct. 15

5’

Horn Pond

Salmon Falls River

Wakefield

Oct. 1

1.5’

Howe Reservoir

Tributary to Minnewawa Brook

Dublin

Oct. 10

6’

Island Pond

North Branch Contoocook River

Stoddard

Oct. 10

3’

Lake Kanasatka

Tributary to Lake Winnipesaukee

Moultonboro

Nov. 1

1.5’

Kezar Lake

Lane River

Sutton

Sept. 30

2’

Kingswood Lake

Churchill Brook

Brookfield

Oct. 10

4’

Little Sunapee Lake

Kidder Brook

Sunapee

Oct. 15

1’

Lovell Lake

Branch River

Wakefield

Oct. 10

3’

Mascoma Lake4

Mascoma River

Lebanon

Oct. 10

3’

Mendums Pond5

Little River

Nottingham

N/A

Under Repair

Milton Three Ponds4

Salmon Falls River

Milton

Oct. 10

3’

Newfound Lake4

Newfound River 

Bristol

Oct. 10

2.5’

Nay Pond

Dead River

Milan

Sept. 30

7.5”

Nippo Pond

Nippo Brook

Barrington

Oct. 10

2’

North River Pond

North River

Nottingham

Oct. 10

1’

Northwood Lake

Little Suncook River

Epsom

Oct. 10

6’

Ossipee Lake

Ossipee River

Effingham

Oct. 10

3.25'

Opechee Lake

Winnipesaukee River

Laconia

Oct. 10

5’

Pawtuckaway Lake

Pawtuckaway River

Nottingham

Oct. 10

4.8’

Pequawket Lake

Tributary to Swift River

Conway

Nov. 1

2’

Pine River Pond

Pine River

Wakefield

Oct. 10

8’

Pleasant Lake

Tributary to Little Suncook River

Deerfield

Oct. 10

2’

Robb Reservoir6

North Branch Contoocook River

Stoddard

Oct. 10

2’

Sawyer Lake

Badger Brook

Gilmanton

Oct. 10

3’

Shellcamp Pond

Academy Brook

Gilmanton

Oct. 10

2’

Silver Lake

Minnewawa Brook

Harrisville

Oct. 10

3’

Squam Lake4

Squam River

Ashland

Oct. 10

2.5’

Sunapee Lake4

Sugar River

Sunapee

Oct. 10

2.5’

Suncook Lakes

Suncook River

Barnstead

Oct. 1

5’

Sunset Lake

Suncook River

Alton

Oct. 10

7’

Trickling Falls

Powwow River

East Kingston

Nov. 1

1’

Webster Lake

Chance Brook

Franklin

Oct. 10

2’

Whittemore Lake

Tributary to Contoocook River

Bennington

Oct. 10

1.5’

Winnisquam Lake

Winnipesaukee River

Belmont

Oct. 10

2’

  1. Chandler Pond – there will be a onetime drawdown this year.
  2. East Washington – the drawdown will be deeper for a short 4-6 week period to allow for repairs at the dam.
  3. Glen Lake/Gregg Falls – there may be a release for kayakers on October 22, depending on weather conditions.
  4. These larger lakes generally do not reach their full drawdowns until mid or late March. The values listed above are generally the maximum levels reached, although during any given year the levels reached can be either higher or lower as needed to account for the melting of the winter snowpack in the spring.
  5. Mendums Pond – the pond is currently drawn down to allow for needed dam repairs.
  6. Robb Reservoir – the drawdown will be deeper for a short 4-6 week period to allow for repairs at the dam.

The depth of drawdown listed above is not from the current level, but is from the normal full pond level. Depending on ice and hydrologic conditions, these levels can vary throughout the winter. Since the hydrologic conditions and recreational uses of these water bodies vary, the degree and date of the start of drawdown for each lake vary and could be affected by the amount of rainfall during the period.  In addition, the actual date at which the drawdown will begin could vary by a few days based on operational constraints. However, at two dams, the drawdowns will be initiated on a specific Saturday in October to provide recreational opportunities for canoeists and kayakers in the river below these dams. The schedule for these recreational opportunities is as follows:

  • On October 15th, approximately 450 cubic feet per second (cfs) will be released into the North Branch of the Piscataquog River from the Horace Lake Dam in Weare.
  • On October 22th, there may be a release performed by EagleCreek Renewable Energy into the Piscataquog River from Gregg Falls Dam in Goffstown, dependent on weather conditions.

These special releases will start at or near 8 AM for the dates specified above, and will be reduced to near normal levels by 4 PM that same day. NHDES reminds people that canoeing and kayaking have inherent risks, and paddling the state’s lakes and rivers is at the paddler’s own risk.

Lake drawdowns are conducted each fall to reduce winter ice damage to shoreline properties and to reduce spring flooding. Drawdowns also give property owners an opportunity to conduct any necessary repairs to their waterfront property, provided they first secure a permit from the NHDES Wetlands Bureau at (603) 271-2147.

Generally, lake levels are allowed to return to the normal full pond level in the spring.  However, Chesham Pond is lowered by 4 feet starting after Columbus Day for a period of 6 to 8 weeks and the level is brought up to 2 feet below the normal full pond level for the remainder of winter. In addition, the drawdowns of Opechee and Winnisquam Lakes, which occur on a two-year interval, last only approximately two weeks. This year, the lowering of Opechee Lake will begin on October 10th, and it will likely take two days to pass the water from Opechee Lake downstream through Winnisquam Lake. Therefore, the level of Winnisquam Lake is not expected to drop noticeably until October 12th. On October 24th flows at Lakeport Dam will be increased to refill Opechee Lake, and the level of Winnisquam Lake should begin to rise late in the day on October 25th.

Not included in this schedule is Lake Winnipesaukee. Unlike the other lakes in this schedule, Lake Winnipesaukee is not purposely drawn down in the fall. Instead, each year on Columbus Day, the releases from Lakeport Dam are reduced from a normal minimum of 250 cubic feet per second (cfs) to a flow between 30 and 50 cfs for a period of up to two weeks to allow for maintenance of the dams and hydropower facilities on the Winnipesaukee River. The flow of 30 to 50 cfs is the minimum flow needed to maintain the downstream aquatic life during this period.

By the middle of the fall, Lake Winnipesaukee is, on average, 15 inches below its springtime full level due to evaporation and releases from the lake that have occurred over the course of the summer.  As a result of the reduction in the amount of water released from the dam after Columbus Day, the lake level does not drop for the remainder of the month of October and is generally maintained at this level through the month of December. Depending on the amount of snow on the ground in the winter, the lake level may be lowered further beginning in January to a depth of two feet below the normal full level.

A plot of the average lake levels throughout the year for Lake Winnipesaukee is provided on NHDES’s website at: des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/dam/winni_levels/index.htm. Also included are updated plots of this year’s lake levels, releases from the dam, and precipitation.

The NH Fish and Game Department recommends that if special drawdowns are to be conducted for the purposes of repairing property such as retaining walls or private boat ramps they occur no more frequently than once every 5 years. In the event a party may wish to conduct such a drawdown, please contact the NHDES Dam Bureau immediately after receiving all permits required for such work, so that the drawdown can be coordinated with any other work at the same water body being proposed by other parties. In this way the number of special drawdowns can be minimized, and unexpected delays (up to 5 years) for your project can be avoided.




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