Watershed Protection

We are fortunate the Lake Sunapee watershed is significantly forested (approximately 75% or more), and not overly developed, though there are areas of concentrated development. Forested land (versus densely developed or high intensity agricultural use) helps to maintain higher quality water by functioning as a kind of water filter, treatment and storage device.  Higher levels of development with significant areas of impervious surfaces (pavement, rooftops, etc.) and potential contamination sources, degrade water quality.

LSPA works in a number of ways to achieve watershed protection:

Resource Protection Practices

LSPA promotes good water resource protection practices through education and action by:

  • Providing advice on the handling and disposal of potential contaminants, including household productsand personal care products such as cleansers, soaps, fragrances, and pharmaceuticals (prescription and non-prescription).
  • Guiding residents toward low impact landscaping and gardening.
  • Encouraging chemical-free maintenance of lawns.
  • Promoting the care and maintenance of septic systems.
  • Providing advice on how to reduce or eliminate runoff from agriculture and forestry activities.
  • Promoting how to effectively manage stormwater on site for businesses and homeowners.
  • Promoting the use of low-impact development methods for land, building construction and maintenance.
  • Providing advice on how to reduce the impact of road building, maintenance and de-icing.

Click here to access LSPA's Library that includes a variety of educational materials on many of the subjects listed above.

Whatever is happening within the watershed affects the quality of water within the watershed and the water that flows out. These practices need to be utilized throughout the watershed, not just in riparian (adjacent to water) areas.

LSPA Watershed Committee

Watershed protection also means effective and enforceable state and municipal regulations and ordinances. State laws and local ordinances are in place not only to protect your drinking water, but also to help maintain public and private property values and individual quality of life. The LSPA Watershed Committee was formed  to work on ways to improve local compliance.

The mission of the committee is to actively protect water quality and the watershed in the Lake Sunapee region through collaboration with individuals, non-profits, business representatives, towns and other stakeholders.

The goals of the committee are to:

  • Help educate and engage the public concerning issues that affect water quality and the watershed.
  • Partner with non-profits, land use boards, selectmen, road agents, landowners, realtors, foresters, builders, etc.
  • Research and track state and local legislation and ordinances that affect watershed conservation.
  • Promote responsible enforcement.
  • Promote responsible land use and water protection regulations with the towns.
  • Work toward crafting a unified ordinance that all three Lake Sunapee towns would adopt with regard to the shore land and watershed. 
  • Promote the resulting unified ordinance.

The LSPA Watershed Committee consists of members from the lake communities as well as LSPA Board members and staff. We also have natural resource professionals such as foresters and environmental engineers available to advise our committee.

The committee includes present and former members of municipal planning boards, zoning boards of adjustment, conservation commissions and select boards. We also have members experienced in regional planning,  public works and engineering.

Currently, the committee is working with the municipalities to improve compliance of water resource protection ordinances in the watershed.

Invasive Species

Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)

AIS represents an ecological threat and a water quality threat.  Both terrestrial and aquatic invasive species pose ecological threats by invading areas where they are not native, competing with natives and, many times, eventually dominating. This species alteration in an area can lead to changes in environmental conditions such as available sunlight  and nutrients, which will, in time, further alter the species that are present. Aquatic invasive plant and animal species can alter aquatic ecosystems and, in the process, alter habitat and water quality. 

The NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has identified numerous aquatic invasive plant and animal species and locations throughout the state. However,  Lake Sunapee has had only one identified invasive plant species - variable milfoil (Myriophyllum heterophyllum), and no identified animal species.  

Click here to learn more about what how LSPA is working to prevent the spread of AIS into Lake Sunapee and how you can help.

Click here to see what is happening at the state level  (NHDES).

Click here to learn more about what AIS look like.

Terrestrial Invasive Species

Common Reed - Courtesy of NH DES

Common Reed - Courtesy of NH DES

In addition to the concerns about aquatic invasive species, wetland and terrestrial  invasive species  can also pose a threat to water quality.   The vegetative cover of a watershed stabilizes soils and provides the habitat  and food sources for  the species that live there.  In general, animal species have evolved with - and adapted to - native plant communities. When an invasive species moves in, habitats and food sources can be altered and  sometimes entire ecosystems are altered.  Native animal and plant species sometimes adapt. However, sometimes the native species cannot adapt and they may be eliminated from the ecosystem.

Purple Loosetrife - Courtesy of NH DES

Purple Loosetrife - Courtesy of NH DES

Two well-known invasive wetland plant species are common reed (Phragmites australis) and purple loosestrife (Lythrum salicaria). Once established in a wetlands area, these species are extremely difficult to control or remove and over time, they tend to dominate and eliminate other plant species.

Japanese Barberry - Courtesy of NH Department of Agriculture

Japanese Barberry - Courtesy of NH Department of Agriculture

There are many terrestrial invasive plant species that can follow this same pattern in forested habitats. For example, Japanese barberry (Berberis thubergii) has escaped from cultivation and has come to dominate the understory of significant areas of forest.  Again, this invasion and domination can change plant communities along with the animal  species that live there.

Emerald Ash Borer - Courtesy of David Cappaert, Michigan State

Emerald Ash Borer - Courtesy of David Cappaert, Michigan State

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid -Courtesy NH Department of Agriculture

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid -Courtesy NH Department of Agriculture

Asian Longhorned Beetle - Courtesy of UNH Cooperative Extension

Asian Longhorned Beetle - Courtesy of UNH Cooperative Extension

Forested areas are extremely important for maintaining quality water resources in the northeast. Forests act as natural water filters, water storage, and flow control devices.  If forest ecosystems are significantly disrupted, these water functions can be disrupted.

One way disruption can occur is from invasive insects. Three invasive insects, emerald ash borer, hemlock woolly adelgid and Asian longhorned beetle are of particular concern. These species can seriously alter a forest ecosystem by damaging or killing ash trees, hemlocks or, in the case of the Asian longhorned beetle, about 25 different tree species. Two of these insect species have already arrived in New Hampshire - the emerald ash borer (scroll down to view map) and the woolly adelgid.

Click here to view a recent LSPA presentation, Forest Ecosystem Threats, on how these insects could have a negative impact on the Lake Sunapee Watershed.

What you Can Do

To get involved and learn more about how to identify and prevent the spread of invasive insects and plants click on pictures or visit NHBugs.org the NH Department of Agriculture or the UNH Cooperative Extension.