MEREDITH — The Lakes Region Planning Commission (LRPC) in partnership with the Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association (LWWA) is developing a Watershed Management Plan for Center Harbor Bay.
The Center Harbor Bay Plan is part of a long-term plan to create a web-based watershed management plan for the entire Winnipesaukee River watershed. A key goal is to help protect the waters of Lake Winnipesaukee for the future economic, recreational, and aesthetic value of the region. Progress to date can be viewed at the Winnipesaukee Gateway, the permanent website of the plan (www.winnigateway.org).
Watershed based management plans estimate the level of pollutant load reduction or habitat restoration required to meet the goals set by the plan. Specific locations are usually identified where land use improvements are needed, such as at public boat launches or culverts under roadways.
The Advisory Committee for the Center Harbor Bay project met in Meredith last month to establish goals for the Plan. The committee was presented with recommendations for water quality conditions for Center Harbor Bay. Lake water quality specialists from Lakes Region Planning Commission, Lake Winnipesaukee Watershed Association, and UNH Cooperative Extension developed these recommendations.
The Advisory Committee, comprised primarily of local municipal officials, accepted the recommendation that the Watershed Management Plan be developed with the goal to maintain the water quality of the bay in its present condition. The committee noted that even slightly degraded water quality conditions in other bays of the lake have resulted in algal blooms. Therefore, developing a strategy to maintain water quality was viewed as an essential goal of the Center Harbor Bay Plan.
The creation of impervious surfaces and nutrient runoff from developed land degrade water quality, whereas compliance with shoreline regulations and voluntary actions of landowners can protect water quality. Research in New England has shown that a natural buffer strip of shrubs and trees along the shoreline protects water quality and habitat nearly as well as an intact, forested watershed.
The Center Harbor Bay Watershed Management Plan is scheduled to be completed in 2014. LRPC and LWWA are especially interested in public feedback on ways to protect water quality and learning of locations where remediation projects are needed. There will be upcoming opportunities for public engagement on the plan components.