For Immediate Release
Date: July 13, 2023


Tyler Dumont, Public Information Officer - New Hampshire Department of Safety
(603) 223-3641 |
Ted Diers, Assistant Director, Water Division - New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Departments of Safety, Environmental Services Urge Caution Due to High Water Levels

CONCORD, New Hampshire – Today, the New Hampshire Department of Safety (NHDOS) and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) are advising residents and visitors to use caution due to extensive recent rainfall that has resulted in unusually high levels of water in lakes, ponds, rivers and other bodies of water across the State of New Hampshire. NHDES has had success throughout the day with increasing discharge from State-owned dams located on many of the large lakes. This increased discharge is allowing many of the lakes to start or continue decreasing from their maximum elevations experienced earlier this week.

For those who seek to enjoy the state’s waters by boat, these high water levels can result in unforeseen hazards, including floating debris like tree limbs, broken sections of dock and other items.  Hazards normally well-marked, and just under the surface of normal water levels, may also be more difficult to detect.  Boaters are advised to use caution to avoid potential collisions that could result in injury or damage to vessels. 

Damage to private and public property, such as boats breaking loose from moorings, loss of sections of dock and other structures, and land erosion on shorelines, may result from current high water levels. New Hampshire State Police Marine Patrol is aware of these risks and is working diligently to monitor conditions, as well as manage and mitigate risk, and will maintain extra patrols to encourage boaters to operate safely. Boaters are encouraged to operate in a manner that is cognizant of these potential effects, and in compliance with rules requiring headway speed and safe passage.

Additionally, NHDES continues to monitor for the potential of elevated levels of bacteria in lakes and rivers where there has been high rainfall. Runoff from roads and parking lots can carry contaminants, such as nutrients and bacteria, into the state’s waters. Residents and visitors may see oil slicks or large amounts of debris entering bodies of water from the excessive runoff, breached dams, and road or culvert washouts. Anyone in doubt should stay out and wait for flood waters to recede and lake levels to come back down. Residents and visitors can check the NHDES website for fecal bacteria and cyanobacteria beach and lake advisories before heading out, and subscribe to weekly healthy swimming updates issued by NHDES.

Higher waters can create swift currents that are dangerous for boaters and swimmers. Areas near dams, bridges, culverts and the outlets of lakes are particularly dangerous. Boaters are reminded to enjoy the state’s waterways carefully and responsibly, with operators properly trained and licensed, with functional lighting, sound-producing devices, and proper personal floatation devices of the right kind and number for the vessel and its occupants. As a reminder, life jackets are required for persons under age 13 at any time while upon a vessel that is underway.

The NHDES and the NHDOS will continue to work collaboratively to address safety concerns. Additionally, the NHDES will continue to discharge as much water as possible from State-owned dams while monitoring possible high-water impacts in the downstream river systems.  The public can access lake and river data on the Dam Bureau’s Real-Time Data & Information for Watersheds in New Hampshire website.

Additional updates will be released as appropriate.