NH House Bill 137

Wake boat use is growing in popularity on lakes of all sizes throughout NH, and some of our lake residents have expressed concern about the possible environmental effects of this sport on Merrymeeting Lake—particularly with regard to shoreline erosion. 

To address concerns received from throughout the state, NH House Bill 137 was passed this year to establish a wake boat study commission. 

The committee is comprised of a 15 member group with well balanced representation, including (among others); The NH Lakes Association, Water Sports Industry Association, a lake resident representing a lake of more than 1000 acres, resident from a lake of less than 1000 acres,  Marine Patrol, Dept. of Environmental Services, NH Campground Owners Association and USA Water Ski & Wake Sports NH. A complete list of members are available in the Study Committee Details link.

We encourage interested MMLA members to follow the progress of this commission.

Following are links to information:

Study Committee Details:


HB 137 Docket and Status- for monitoring of the status of the bill:


NH Lakes Association

The commission will thoroughly explore this issue and are expected to report their findings and recommendations in the fall of 2020.

Unfortunate Loon Death

We received the following information from one of the biologists at The Loon Preservation Committee (LPC, https://www.loon.org/contact-loon-center.php ).  Please, if you see a loon in distress, or have any questions at all, contact the LPC. This is why they are there.

“Just wanted to keep you in the loop–yesterday, I collected a dead loon on Merrymeeting, on a beach on South Shore Road. It is unbanded, so we’re not sure yet whether it was a pair member or not. Based on the size of the bird I assume it is a female, but that will be confirmed when it is necropsied.  The next necropsy day will be held sometime in mid-October, and I’ll update you on what is found.

The person who reported the loon noted that after he found it, some neighbors told him that they had seen the loon beached and acting sick a few days before it died. They had approached it, and the loon was very lethargic and did not react to their presence.

Unfortunately, we never got a call about the loon when it was still alive. I’m assuming Fish and Game was not called either, as they always forward their loon distress calls on to us.

I think there are a lot of folks out there who might not realize that LPC exists or that they should report these things to us.”


MMLA Autumn Updates

Help the Health of Our Lake With Responsible Leaf Care!

Leaves are natural—how can they be considered litter?! When leaves fall to the ground, they naturally decompose and restock the soil with nutrients and organic matter. But, what happens when there’s no soil to land on? What happens to those nutrients when leaves land on streets and driveways where they can’t be recycled into the soil? Here’s the short answer: they litter the lake with pollution!

Without any natural soil to soak into, when it rains, nutrients released by decaying leaves are washed into runoff water which eventually ends up in lakes. Unfortunately, additional nutrients in a lake is not a good thing—the nutrient phosphorus fuels the growth of algae, including toxic algae. When algae blooms die off, decomposing organisms use up the oxygen in the water. When this happens, the lake and its native plant and animal inhabitants suffer—low oxygen can even kill fish.

The good news is you help prevent leaves from littering Merrymeeting lake! Here’s what you can do to turn leaf litter into treasure!

  • Leaves make fantastic mulch for your lawn and garden! Use the mower to shred those leaves and leave them on the lawn to decompose and put that phosphorus back into the soil where it belongs. Add shredded or whole leaves right to your garden beds to suppress weeds, provide insulation, and nourish tired soil. It’s free and your trees and veggies will thank you.
  • If you want to go the extra mile, rake the leaves off your driveway (and street too!) and onto your lawn before it rains! This could reduce phosphorus in runoff by up to 60 percent, according to a study done by the University of Minnesota.
  • Share your leaves! If you are not into gardening, bring leaves and yard waste to the transfer station. Or, consider bagging up your leaves and dropping them off at your local community garden!

If leaves do get into the lake, it is best to leave them there—do not use a rake in the water to remove them.

Raking the bottom disturbs the critters living in and on the lake bottom. Raking in the lake also suspends sediment and phosphorus into the water column, causing violations of state water quality standards and fueling algae blooms.

Thank you for doing your part to not let leaves litter lakes!

More great information on lake saving topics can be found in the latest newsletter from NH Lakes https://mailchi.mp/nhlakes/shorelines-your-monthly-nh-lakes-newsletter-341905?e=6729f53e67

Merrymeeting Lake Association Annual Meeting & Birch Ridge Community Forest Celebration

Saturday, July 13, 2019
New Durham Elementary School

MMLA Annual Meeting starts at 8:30am with Coffee and pastries.
Business part of the meeting from 9:00 – 9:45am
Year in review and presentation of proposed board for 2019 -2020

At 10:00am, a special celebration to commemorate the purchase of the Birch Ridge 2,000+ acres for conservation forever! Learn about the plans and vision to use this land responsibly, followed by guided tours of the property. Details and RSVP at https://seltnh.org/event/birch-ridge-celebration/

Merrymeeting Watershed Management Plan to be presented on Wednesday, June 19, 2019.

The environmental consultants, Forrest Bell Environmental Associates, will be making a presentation for the public on the status of the Merrymeeting Watershed including Merrymeeting Lake and all rivers and streams merging with the Merrymeeting River between the Merrymeeting Lake and Lake Winnipesaukee. This meeting will address recurrent blooms of cyanobacteria seen in both New Durham and Alton and the sources of phosphorus, a nutrient, which is causing this problem. While Merrymeeting Lake enjoys some of the most pristine water in the State, the lake may become vulnerable, in the future, due to shoreline erosion and failing septic systems. The recent effect of logging on Merrymeeting Lake streams will also be covered.

The Merrymeeting River has been damaged by the discharge of many pounds of phosphorus, nitrogen and suspended solids from the Powder Mill State Fish Hatchery. The impact from the hatchery can be felt all the way to Lake Winnipesaukee. Efforts to minimize the discharge of nutrients from the hatchery must be instituted soon. Progress is being made both in terms of an interim facility to treat waste water, reducing phosphorus in the fish food, and raising some of the fish off-site. A permanent long-term solution requires establishing safe levels of phosphorus in the River. Recently the Water Quality Goals Committee met and set the maximum phosphorus concentrations everywhere in the Merrymeeting River at 10ug/L monthly average each month of the year. This is an ambitious goal which will require a permanent state-of-the-art hatchery waste water treatment facility.

Other problems arise in the Alton span of the Merrymeeting River particularly via Coffin Brook and Mill Pond. Using GIS-based Land use models the areas of high phosphorus stormwater runoff have been identified. While some sources of this phosphorus are occurring naturally, e.g. water leaving peat bogs, in many instances stormwater runoff is being influenced by fertilizer use, agricultural practices, culverts and roadside erosion, plowing practices and residential stormwater runoff. Each of these problems can be addressed and, once remediated, will greatly reduce the availability of phosphorus in waterbodies.

Another potential problem will appear after the hatchery discharge is discontinued. Several of our impounded waterways, i.e. Marsh and Jones Ponds for certain and possibly Mill Pond, develop a state of oxygen depletion near the sediment during the summer. When this happens, internal loading can occur. Internal loading refers to the ability of the sediment to release bound phosphorus back into the water and this could continue to cause elevated phosphorus concentrations until this storage site (the sediment) is depleted, which may take decades. Approaches to resolve these problems will be discussed.

However, it is how we develop the remaining land in the future which can have the greatest long-term impact. If all the remaining land available for residential housing in the watershed is built-out the number of new buildings will exceed the current number of buildings by over 200%. Should this new construction be allowed to proceed unabated the consequences for the Merrymeeting River and Lake Winnipesaukee are profound.

Join Us for the Annual Merrymeeting Lake Community Roadside Cleanup!

Last year’s roadside cleanup was a tremendous success, with
nearly 50 volunteers participating and collecting more than 20
bags of trash!

Bring your family/friends and neighbors to participate in the MMLA
Annual Roadside Cleanup on Sunday, May 26, 2019 (Memorial
Day Weekend).

Please join us at 9:00 a.m. at Meetinghouse/Cove Cottages for
complimentary coffee and donuts. Plastic bags and gloves will be
provided for collecting trash and recyclables. Volunteers will be
assigned sections of Merrymeeting Lake Road, South Shore
Road, and North Shore Road.

In appreciation of your participation in this important community
activity, volunteers will each receive a MMLA t-shirt! Let’s clean up
the roadside together and protect our lake environment
for all to enjoy.

We’ve Reached Our Goal to Save Birch Ridge!!!

 Dear Lake Neighbors,

I am thrilled to share with you that last Friday the Birch Ridge Community Forest was officially awarded a $350,000 grant from the highly competitive Land and Community Heritage Investment Program! With this award, and a recent grant from the NH Department of Environmental Service’s Aquatic Resources Mitigation Fund, the fundraising goal of $2,950,000 to acquire, conserve, and steward the Birch Ridge Community Forest has been met!

This is a remarkable accomplishment completed in just seven months – only made possible by the leadership and generosity of lake and area residents who stepped up during the summer and fall to make gifts and pledges for the vision of the Birch Ridge Community Forest.  Thank you all!  Those gifts and pledges demonstrated the significance of this land and helped secure grants from state and federal agencies for the remaining funds.  Our appreciation extends to our partners, SELT – the Southeast Land Trust of New Hampshire and Moose Mountains Regional Greenways –  whose leadership and professionalism developed a clear path for success.

What’s next?  With the funding in place, the due diligence necessary to acquire the property is in full swing. SELT has hired the surveying firm of Eric C. Mitchell & Associates to complete the full property boundary survey, including any of the rights of way strips that extend to adjacent public roads like South Shore Road.  Don’t be surprised if you see them doing their field work!

SELT and MMRG continue to work with the Birch Ridge Community Forest Steering Committee to develop a formal management plan for the property.  Stay tuned for updates on that planning process or visit SELT’s page about the project, where regular updates will be posted.

 In closing, although we have successfully reached the financial goal for the Birch Ridge property, this opportunity has sparked many to consider how to proactively conserve the remaining watershed of Merrymeeting Lake.  To that end, if you were waiting until the last moment to contribute, you still can give by contributing to the Merrymeeting Lake Association’s Conservation Fund. Your donation to the MMLA conservation fund is tax deductible as allowed by law. Your donation today will help continue our efforts, in partnership with SELT and Moose Mountains Regional Greenways, to put more available land into conservation and protect the water quality and scenic views of Merrymeeting Lake. Send your donation to MMLA PO Box 468 New Durham NH 03855, with “Conservation Fund” in the memo field.

I look forward to sharing further updates as this effort moves to the next stage in 2019 and as we plan for a community celebration next summer.  Happy holidays to you and your family!

Kind regards,

William Bassett


Merrymeeting Lake Association