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Pleae abide by the fertilizer ordinances protecting our lakes

  • Published in Letters

To The Daily Sun,

The Moultonborough Milfoil Committee has removed more than 50,000 gallons of invasive variable milfoil from Lake Winnipesaukee over the last five years, vastly improving the lake experience in the affected areas. However, in 2015, we received several reports from citizens concerned about weeds in areas of the lake where weeds have not been found before. In many cases, these weeds have been identified to be native plants.

The state of New Hampshire prohibits the removal of native aquatic vegetation from lakes and ponds without a permit. In fact, if native plants are removed, the disturbed area becomes more vulnerable to being infested with variable milfoil which spreads faster and becomes much denser than the native plants.

While we cannot remove the native plants, there are things we can do to make sure that the lake does not become more likely to support them. One of the key actions is to leave the area around the lake free of chemical and organic fertilizer. When fertilizer is used near the lake, phosphorus enters the waterbody in storm runoff. Phosphorus is a nutrient for milfoil and other aquatic plants. In addition, it can create algae blooms, turn the water green, cloud the water, cause odor problems, and deplete the oxygen for fish and other species, effectively suffocating them.

According to ongoing research, the phosphorus levels in Moultonborough Bay are higher than they should be. While levels under eight parts per billion are required to maintain high water quality, they average 11 to 15. Over 2,600 pounds of phosphorus enter Moultonborough Bay, each year. Some of that is from shoreline fertilizer.

The state of New Hampshire mandates that no fertilizer except limestone be used within 25 feet of the lake. The town of Moultonborough's zoning ordinance is tougher, requiring that no fertilizer except wood ash or limestone be used with 50 feet of the lake.

We ask that property owners on or near the lake consider the issue of fertilizer pollution as you garden this spring. Make sure your landscapers and property management companies are aware of and abide by the fertilizer ordinances. Please help keep the lake clear, beautiful and weed free.

Ginny Gassman

Moultonborough Milfoil Committee