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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
DATE: September 15, 2020
CONTACT: Dan Mattaini, (603) 271-8867

State Announces Its 2020 Fall Drawdown of Lakes

Concord, NH –The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) 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
Akers Pond Greenough Brook Errol Oct. 12 1'
Angle Pond Bartlett Brook Sandown Oct. 12 2'
Ayers Lake Tributary to Isinglass River Barrington Oct. 12 3'
Ballard Pond Taylor Brook Derry Oct. 12 2'
Barnstead Parade Suncook River Barnstead Oct. 12 1.5'
Bow Lake Isinglass River Strafford Oct. 12 4'
Burns Lake Tributary to Johns River Whitefield Oct. 12 1.3'
Chesham Pond Minnewawa Brook Harrisville Oct. 12 2'
Crystal Lake Crystal Lake Brook Enfield Oct. 12 4'
Crystal Lake Suncook River Gilmanton Oct. 12 3'
Deering Reservoir Piscataquog River Deering Oct. 12 4'
East Washington Pond Beards Brook Washington Oct. 12 2'
Glen Lake/Greggs Falls Piscataquog River Goffstown Oct. 31 1.5'
Goose Pond Goose Pond Brook Canaan Oct. 12 7.5'
Grafton Pond1 Bicknell Brook Grafton Oct. 1 8'
Great East Lake Salmon Falls River Wakefield Oct. 1 3'
Great Pond Powwow River Kingston Oct. 12 1'
Highland Lake North Branch Contoocook River Stoddard Oct. 12 3'
Horace Lake (aka Weare Reservoir)2 Piscataquog River Weare Oct. 30 5'
Horn Pond Salmon Falls River Wakefield Oct. 5 1.5'
Howe Reservoir3 Tributary to Minnewawa Brook Dublin Sept. 8 6'
Island Pond North Branch Contoocook River Stoddard Oct. 12 3'
Lake Kanasatka Tributary to Lake Winnipesaukee Moultonboro Nov. 5 1.5'
Kezar Lake Lane River Sutton Oct. 1 2'
Kingswood Lake  Churchill Brook Brookfield Oct. 12 4'
Little Sunapee Lake Kidder Brook New London Oct. 12 1'
Lovell Lake  Branch River Wakefield Oct. 12 3'
Mascoma Lake4 Mascoma River Lebanon Oct. 12 3'
Mendums Pond Little River Nottingham Nov. 9 7'
Milton Three Ponds4 Salmon Falls River Milton Oct. 12 3'
Newfound Lake Newfound River  Bristol Sept. 1 2.0'
Nay Pond Dead River Milan Oct. 1 7.5 inches
Nippo Pond Nippo Brook Barrington Oct. 12 2'
North River Pond North River Nottingham Oct. 12 1'
Northwood Lake Little Suncook River Epsom Oct. 24 6'
Opechee Winnipesaukee RIver Laconia Oct. 17 5'
Ossipee Lake4 Ossipee River Effingham Oct. 12 3.25'
Pawtuckaway Lake Pawtuckaway River Nottingham Oct. 12 4.8'
Pequawket Lake Tributary to Swift River Conway Nov. 2 2'
Pine River Pond Pine River Wakefield Oct. 12 8'
Pleasant Lake Tributary to Little Suncook River Deerfield Oct. 12 2.70'
Shellcamp Pond Academy Brook Gilmanton Oct. 12 2.2'
Silver Lake Minnewawa Brook Harrisville Oct. 12 3'
Squam Lake 4 Squam River Ashland Oct. 14 2.5'
Sunapee Lake4 Sugar River Sunapee Oct. 14 2.5'
Suncook Lakes Suncook River Barnstead Oct. 5 5'
Sunset Lake Suncook River Alton Oct. 12 7'
Trickling Falls Powwow River East Kingston Nov. 2 1'
Union Meadows5 Branch River Wakefield Oct. 5 4'
Webster Lake Chance Brook Franklin Oct. 12 2'
Whittemore Lake Tributary to Contoocook River Bennington Oct. 12 1.5'
Winnisquam Lake Winnipesaukee River Belmont Oct. 17 2'
  1. Grafton Pond will be drawn down 8 feet again this year for a two to three-week period for some minor maintenance of the dam. This drawdown will start on October 5 and the lake level will be raised to the normal two-foot drawdown level after work on the dam is complete.
  2. The drawdown of Horace Lake will begin on October 30 this year, which is approximately two weeks later than normal.
  3. The drawdown of Howe Reservoir will start in early September for maintenance work on the dam.
  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 due to weather conditions.
  5. Union Meadows Dam will have a drawdown to facilitate some minor maintenance that needs to be done and to facilitate an inspection of the upstream side of the dam. As soon as work all work is complete, the lake level will be allowed to return to full pond.

The depth of drawdown listed above is not from the current level, but is from the normal full pond level. Because of the drought conditions the state has been experiencing through the summer, the levels of many of these lakes are already a foot or more below full. As a result, NHDES will not be making its normal special releases from Horace Lake and Northwood Lake for downstream recreation this year, but intends to resume them next fall. However, on Saturday, October 31, a release will be made from Greggs Falls Dam in Goffstown to provide an opportunity for canoeing and kayaking in the Piscataquog River downstream. The release will begin at 11:00 AM.

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 DES Wetlands Bureau at (603) 271-2147.

Generally, lake levels are allowed to return to the normal full pond level in the spring. However, 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 17, 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 19. On October 30, 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 November 1.

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, in the fall after 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. This year the reduction will be begun on October 17.

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. Because of this summer's drought, the level of the lake is already at that elevation. When the amount of water released from the dam is reduced after Columbus Day, the lake level is not expected to drop significantly for the remainder of the month of October and, if drought conditions ease in the fall and winter, it is expected to remain relatively stable through the month of December absent any major rainfall events. 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 https://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 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.




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