State Announces Its 2023 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.
|Akers Pond||Greenough Brook||Errol||Oct. 9||1’|
|Angle Pond||Bartlett Brook||Sandown||Oct. 9||2’|
|Ayers Lake||Tributary to
|Ballard Pond||Taylor Brook||Derry||Oct. 9||2’|
|Barnstead Parade||Suncook River||Barnstead||Oct. 9||1.5’|
|Bow Lake||Isinglass River||Strafford||Oct. 9||4’|
|Burns Lake||Tributary to
|Chesham Pond||Minnewawa Brook||Harrisville||Oct. 9||2’|
|Crystal Lake||Crystal Lake Brook||Enfield||Oct. 9||4’|
|Crystal Lake||Suncook River||Gilmanton||Oct. 9||3’|
|Deering Reservoir||Piscataquog River||Deering||Oct. 9||4’|
|Beards Brook||Washington||Oct. 9||2’|
|Glen Lake/Greggs Falls||Piscataquog River||Goffstown||Oct. 28||1.5’|
|Goose Pond 1||Goose Pond Brook||Canaan||Oct. 9||7.5’ to potentially full dewatered’|
|Great East Lake||Salmon Falls River||Wakefield||Oct. 2||3’|
|Great Pond||Powwow River||Kingston||Oct. 9||1’|
|Hermit Lake 2||Salmon Brook||Sanbornton||Oct. 16||8’ back to full|
|Highland Lake||North Branch Contoocook River||Stoddard||Oct. 9||3’|
(aka Weare Reservoir)
|Piscataquog River||Weare||Oct. 9||5’|
|Horn Pond||Salmon Falls River||Wakefield||Oct. 2||1.5’|
|Howe Reservoir||Tributary to Minnewawa Brook||Dublin||Oct. 9||6’|
|Island Pond||North Branch Contoocook River||Stoddard||Oct. 9||3’|
|Lake Kanasatka||Tributary to Lake Winnipesaukee||Moultonboro||Nov. 1||1.5’|
|Kezar Lake||Lane River||Sutton||Oct. 2||2’|
|Kingswood Lake||Churchill Brook||Brookfield||Oct. 9||3’|
|Little Sunapee Lake 3||Kidder Brook||New London||Oct. 2||27”|
|Lovell Lake||Branch River||Wakefield||Oct. 9||4’|
|Mascoma River||Lebanon||Oct. 9||3’|
|Mendums Pond||Little River||Nottingham||Nov. 9||4’|
|Milton Three Ponds 4||Salmon Falls River||Milton||Oct. 9||3’|
|Newfound River||Bristol||Oct. 9||2.5’|
|Dead River||Milan||Oct. 2||7.5 inches|
|Nippo Pond||Nippo Brook||Barrington||Oct. 9||2'|
|North River Pond 5||North River||Nottingham||Oct. 9||3’ to 1’|
|Northwood Lake||Little Suncook River||Epsom||Oct. 9||6’|
|Ossipee Lake 4||Ossipee River||Effingham||Oct. 9||3.25'|
|Pawtuckaway Lake||Pawtuckaway River||Nottingham||Oct. 9||4.8’|
|Pequawket Lake||Tributary to Swift River||Conway||Nov. 1||2’|
|Pine River Pond||Pine River||Wakefield||Oct. 9||8’|
|Pleasant Lake||Tributary to Little Suncook River||Deerfield||Oct. 9||2.7’|
|Shellcamp Pond||Academy Brook||Gilmanton||Oct. 9||2’|
|Silver Lake||Minnewawa Brook||Harrisville||Oct. 9||3’|
|Squam Lake 4||Squam River||Ashland||Oct. 9||2.5’|
|Sunapee Lake 4||Sugar River||Sunapee||Oct. 9||2.5’|
|Suncook Lakes||Suncook River||Barnstead||Oct. 2||5’|
|Sunset Lake 6||Suncook River||Alton||Oct. 9||7’|
|Trickling Falls||Powwow River||East Kingston||Nov. 1||1’|
|Webster Lake||Chance Brook||Franklin||Oct. 9||2’|
|Whittemore Lake||Tributary to Contoocook River||Bennington||Oct. 9||1.5’|
- Goose Pond’s drawdown will begin on the usual date and will proceed following the usual schedule for dropping the water level, but the plan is for the pond to continue to be drawn down fully over the winter to allow for dam reconstruction work of the dam. The water level will be lowered no more than 1 foot per day to a level of approximately 21.5 feet below the normal water surface to allow for the rehabilitation of Goose Pond Dam in 2025. However, should construction schedule changes occur, then this drawdown may be delayed. This drawdown level is expected to remain in effect for at least one full year and may be longer depending on the construction schedule.
- Hermit Lake will have a drawdown of 8 feet to do inspection and minor work for a period of two to four weeks. Afterward, the level of the lake will be returned to full pond.
- Little Sunapee Lake will have its once every five year scheduled deeper drawdown.
- 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.
- North River Pond will be drawn down 3 feet for three weeks in October, then returned to its normal winter level.
- Sunset Lake will follow its usual drawdown procedure to -7 feet, but instead of being refilled in the spring, it will remain at that drawdown level through 2024 to allow for major repairs of the dam.
The depth of drawdown listed above is not from the current level; it 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 also 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 three dams, the drawdowns will be initiated or accelerated 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:
- Horace Lake will have a release for recreational use downstream on Saturday, October 14. Water release from the dam will begin at 8 AM and end at 4 PM. Between 300 and 400 cubic feet per second will be released for that time period.
- Northwood Lake (Little Suncook River) will have a release for recreational use downstream on Saturday, October 21 starting at 8 AM and ending at 4 PM.
At the first two of these sites the flow 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.
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, 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 9.
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’ website. Also included are updated plots of this year’s lake levels, releases from the dam and precipitation.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department recommends that special drawdowns conducted for the purposes of repairing property, such as retaining walls or private boat ramps occur only once in every five years. If you wish to conduct a special drawdown, please contact the NHDES Dam Bureau immediately after receiving all required permits, so that the drawdown can be coordinated with any other work at the same waterbody proposed by other parties. This will help to minimize the number of special drawdowns, and unexpected delays (up to 5 years) for your project can be avoided.
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