Annual lake drawdowns set to begin Oct. 8

New Hampshire Union Leader
September 15. 2012 8:45PM

CONCORD - The 'official' end to summer for many with boats and docks on New Hampshire lakes is Oct. 8.

That's when the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services begins its annual drawdown on most of the lakes where it has control.

For boaters, Oct. 8 is the deadline for removing their vessels from docks, and it signals a time for dock owners to withdrawal their docks to protect them from ice damage.

While New Hampshire has more than 900 bodies of water, only about 100 of them have state-controlled dams.

Lake drawdowns are conducted each fall to reduce winter ice damage to shoreline properties and 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 DES.

On Ballard Pond in Derry, a deeper drawdown is being done to allow for repairs to be made at the dam.

On Bow Lake in Strafford, the Pointe Trinity Association has requested a drawdown to 8 feet to repair its boat ramp. Next year, the drawdown depth will return to its usual 2 feet, said Jim Martin, spokesman for the Department of Environmenyal Services.

The larger lakes generally do not reach their full drawdowns until late fall or March. The levels, based on weatherconditions, can be either higher or lower. At Pittsfield Mills in Pittsfield, a special drawdown is scheduled to clear a blocked gate.

On Shellcamp Pond in Gilmanton, the drawdown will be four feet this year, at the request of the lake association. The usual drawdown is two feet.

In addition, the actual date at which the drawdown is scheduled to begin on a body of water could vary by a few days, based on operational constraints.

Generally, levels are allowed to return to the normal full pond level in the spring. However, Chesham Pond in Harrisville is lowered by four feet starting after Columbus Day for a period of six to eight weeks and the level is brought up to two feet below the normal full pond level for the remainder of winter.

In addition, the drawdowns of Opechee and Winnisquam Lakes, which occur on a two-year interval, last only two weeks.

This year, the lowering of Opechee Lake in Laconia will begin Oct. 9 and it will likely take two days for the water to flow downstream through Winnisquam Lake in Belmont.

Therefore, the level of Winnisquam Lake is not expected to drop noticeably until Oct. 11.

On Oct. 23, flows at Lakeport Dam will be increased to refill Opechee Lake, and the level of Winnisquam Lake should begin to rise late in the day on Oct. 24. A plot of the average lake levels throughout the year for Lake Winnipesaukee is provided on DES's website
To get permits for work on docks and along the shoreline, contact the state Wetlands Bureau at 271-2147.

- - - - - - - -

Paula Tracy may be reached at


Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Facebook Follow our RSS feed
Union Leader app for Apple iPad or Android *
Click to download from Apple Apps StoreClick to download from Android Marketplace
* e-Edition subscription required