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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Media Center

DATE: September 5, 2014 (updated: September 23, 2014)
CONTACT: Dan Mattaini, (603) 271-8867

State Announces 2014 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.

(in feet)
Angle Pond Bartlett Brook Sandown Oct. 13 2'
Akers Pond Greenough Brook Errol Oct. 13 1'
Ayers Lake Tributary to Isinglass River Barrington Oct. 20 3'
Ballard Pond Taylor Brook Derry Oct. 13 2'
Barnstead Parade Suncook River Barnstead Oct. 13 1.5'
Bow Lake1 Isinglass River Strafford Delayed 4'
Burns Lake Tributary to Johns River Whitefield Oct. 13 1.3'
Chesham Pond Minnewawa Brook Harrisville Oct. 13 4' to 2'
Crystal Lake Crystal Lake Brook Enfield Oct. 13 4'
Crystal Lake Suncook River Gilmanton Oct. 13 3'
Deering Reservoir Piscataquog River Deering Oct. 13 4'
East Washington Pond Beards Brook Washington Oct. 13 2'
Glen Lake/Greggs Falls Piscataquog River Goffstown Oct. 25` 1.5'
Goose Pond Goose Pond Brook Canaan Oct. 13 7.5'
Grafton Pond Bicknell Brook Grafton Oct. 13 2'
Great East Lake Salmon Falls River Wakefield Oct. 1 3'
Great Pond Powwow River Kingston Oct. 13 1'
Highland Lake North Branch Contoocook River Stoddard Oct. 13 3'
Horace Lake (aka Weare Reservoir) Piscataquog River Weare Oct. 11 5'
Horn Pond Salmon Falls River Wakefield Oct. 1 1.5'
Howe Reservoir Tributary to Minnewawa Brook Dublin Oct. 13 6'
Island Pond North Branch Contoocook River Stoddard Oct. 13 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. 13 4'
Little Sunapee Lake Kidder Brook New London Oct. 15 1'
Lovell Lake Branch River Wakefield Oct. 13 3'
Mascoma Lake2 Mascoma River Lebanon Oct. 13 3'
Mendums Pond Little River Nottingham Nov. 9 7'
Milton Three Ponds2 Salmon Falls River Milton Oct. 13 3'
Newfound Lake2 Newfound River Bristol Oct. 13 2.5'
Nay Pond Dead River Milan Sept. 30 7.5"
Nippo Pond Nippo Brook Barrington Oct. 13 2'
North River Pond North River Nottingham Oct. 13 1'
Northwood Lake Little Suncook River Epsom Oct. 13 6'
Ossipee Lake Ossipee River Effingham Oct. 13 3.25'
Opechee Lake Winnipesaukee River Laconia Oct. 13 5'
Pawtuckaway Lake Pawtuckaway River Nottingham Oct. 13 6'
Pequawket Lake Tributary to Swift River Conway Nov. 1 2'
Pine River Pond Pine River Wakefield Oct. 13 8'
Pleasant Lake Tributary to Little Suncook River Deerfield Oct. 13 2'
Robb Reservoir North Branch Contoocook River Stoddard Oct. 13 2'
Sawyer Lake Badger Brook Gilmanton Oct. 13 3'
Shellcamp Pond Academy Brook Gilmanton Oct. 13 2'
Silver Lake3 Minnewawa Brook Harrisville Oct. 13 6'
Squam Lake2 Squam River Ashland Oct. 13 2.5'
Sunapee Lake2 Sugar River Sunapee Oct. 13 2.5'
Suncook Lakes Suncook River Barnstead Oct. 1 5'
Sunset Lake Suncook River Alton Oct. 13 7'
Trickling Falls Powwow River East Kingston Nov. 1 1'
Webster Lake Chance Brook Franklin Oct. 13 2'
Wendall Marsh Dam4 Sugar River Sunapee Oct. 13 3'
Whittimore Lake Tributary to Contoocook River Bennington Oct. 13 1.5'
Winnisquam Lake Winnipesaukee River Belmont Oct. 13 2'
  1. Bow Lake – The drawdown for Bow Lake will be delayed until late October or early November. The change is being made at the request of the Stafford Fire Department. A bridge, which provides the only means of reaching many homes, requires immediate repair beginning in October, and during the reconstruction period a fire boat will be the only way to provide fire protection for these homes. The water level must be maintained high enough during this period to allow the boat to access the area. After the work is completed, the water level will be drawn down to the seasonal drawdown depth of 4'.
  2. These larger lakes generally do not reach their full drawdowns until mid or late March. The values above are generally the maximum levels reached, although during any given year the levels reached can be either higher or lower due to weather conditions.
  3. Silver Lake – will be drawn down to close to 6' below full this year to allow the State Department of Transportation (NHDOT) to make repairs on culverts at the road crossing between the lake and the dam.
  4. Wendall Marsh – this impoundment will be dropped to allow for fall and winter construction to rebuild the dam at the outlet.

The depth of drawdown listed above is not from the current level, but is from the normal full pond level. Due to changing 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 rivers below these dams. The schedule for these recreational opportunities is as follows:

  • On October 11th, 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 18th, approximately 250 to 300 cubic feet per second (cfs) will be released into the Little Suncook River from the Northwood Lake Dam in Epsom.

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 13th, 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 15th. On October 27rd 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 28th.

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 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 only once in 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.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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