Squam Watershed Plan Update-January 2017

Visit the Squam Watershed Plan website for additional information and resources.

The Squam Lakes Association (SLA) in partnership with Plymouth State University’s Center for the Environment continue to make progress on the Squam Watershed Plan and wanted to share an update with you. In October, we submitted a pre-application to the NH Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) for funding to help with developing the watershed plan. We are happy to announce that we were invited to submit a full proposal that is due in late January 2017. This is an exciting step for the Squam Watershed. The funding, if approved, will allow us to develop a watershed plan that meets state and federal requirements of the Clean Water Act. This will enhance our work in the coming years and allow us to be eligible for funding to implement meaningful projects to help protect the water quality of the Squam watershed.

Since December 2016, our attention has focused on finalizing our proposal to NHDES. We are busy developing the scope of work, specific tasks and timeline for this. We will find out in the spring if our proposal is approved and then work on developing necessary contracts. This opportunity for funding means that we need to modify and extend our overall timeline for the watershed plan, but the end result will be a more robust watershed plan that is approved by NHDES. We will host a public meeting in the late spring or early summer to share developments about the project.

In the spring of 2017 we will continue to work on a technical model for assessing phosphorus in the watershed. This work will be incorporated into the watershed plan later in 2017 and allow us to run various scenarios and determine the most important actions to take to protect the watershed.

Squam Watershed Plan Summary – January 2017

Public Meeting

  • Public meeting held January 20, 2016. 50+ individuals gathered to celebrate the Squam Watershed and embark into the current update of the Squam Watershed Plan. 
  • Letters of support were received from  Governor Maggie Hassan and Senator Jeanne Shaheen
  • Meeting notes available at https://www.squamlakes.org/news/watershed-plan-kick-meeting-recap

Steering Committee

  • Squam Watershed Plan Steering Committee formed in spring 2016. Committee consists of 10 members from the watershed, partner organizations (Lakes Region Planning Commission, NH Lakes Assoc., Loon Preservation Committee, Plymouth State University), and Squam Lakes Association.
  • Meetings held at SLA in March, May, June, October, & December 2016. Minutes available at https://www.squamlakes.org/squam-watershed-plan/resources

Watershed Modeling

  • Examining the relationship between land cover and water quality—specifically phosphorus
  • Comparing two models: STEPL and SWAT
  • Analyzing three basins within the subwatershed using historical water quality data from 1999-2000 tributary study
  • This academic study will provide SLA’s Director of Conservation R. Hanson with the skills and qualifications to run either model for the watershed plan. Having this capacity at the SLA will help with future plan implementation.
  • Estimated completion: May 2017

Interviews with Watershed Stakeholders

  • During spring of 2016 interviews were conducted with stakeholders to determine watershed users’ knowledge about watershed issues, identify key issues in the Squam Watershed, and engage stakeholders in the planning process.
  • Qualitative analysis techniques were applied to determine key issues and themes which will be incorporated into the new Squam Lakes Watershed Plan.
  • Interview Highlights:
    • Water quality is a primary concern. Tributaries & upland areas are important. Management should focus on watershed as whole.
    • The use of the watershed is important and the frequency & intensity of use are issues.
    • The development of land for residential & business uses needs to be considered. It is important to improve the economic well-being & quality of life through job creation & growing income
    • All five towns in watershed need to be involved. Need dialog between communities.
    • We need to engage lots of people as the new plan should be everyone’s plan
    • Complete the plan in a timely manner, and implement the new plan 
    • Plan will help with finding a balance for the use and development of the watershed

Survey of Recreational Visitors

  • A survey of recreational visitors was conducted over two days in July 2016 at the Rattlesnake trailhead, the Holderness boat launch, campsites, and the Squam Lakes Association.
  • Survey was designed to gather data about the visitors, their purpose for coming to the Squam Watershed, their opinion about water quality, and what they identify as threats to the watershed.
  • 226 people took the survey evenly distributed over each day
    • 83% do not live in the Squam watershed of which 23% had not visited Squam region before and 80% were staying one week or less
    • 39% of all respondents planned to spend <$100, and 29% planned to spend >$500
    • Hiking, swimming, & boating were the most popular activities
    • People come for the recreational opportunities, visiting family & friends, clean water, undeveloped landscape, and fewer people
    • 57% expressed that they are concerned, very concerned, or extremely concerned about water quality in the lakes
    • People cited development of land, roads, and climate change as the top three potential threats to the watershed

Visioning Session

  • Draft vision for the Squam watershed: The Squam Lakes Watershed remains a unique and special place by maintaining a healthy ecosystem, clean water, and a vibrant economy through sustainable land uses and development. The watershed and its resources are accessible for all in a manner that respects the carrying capacity of the region.
  • Under the direction of the watershed plan steering committee the draft vision statement was created
  • Participants were invited to submit feedback to the draft vision statement in summer 2016 via:
    • Online feedback submittal
    • Feedback at SLA annual meeting
  • Additional feedback to be obtained at next public engagement meeting

Outreach, Education, Communication Portion of the Watershed Plan

  • Used the following resources:
    • Other DES-approved watershed plans in New Hampshire and 1991 Squam Watershed Plan
    • Stakeholder input from above mentioned survey and interviews
    • Educational resources available within the state and region
    • SLA communications strategy
  • Incorporated the feedback from two different focus group sessions. One with the Watershed Plan steering committee and the other with the SLA staff
  • Created draft education, outreach and communication recommendations.
  • Additional recommendations will be added from watershed planning process.

Ongoing work

  • Milfoil control
  • Lake Host—boat launch education
  • Trail host—trailhead education
  • Squam Keeping—lake water quality monitoring
  • Annual boat census
  • Annual Squam Watershed Report Card


Learn more and get involved!

Contact the SLA Director of Conservation with questions or to get involved.