Watershed Stewardship

Our Association works to protect and sustain the watershed by building trust, relationships, and networks with residents, property owners, watershed users, town officials, and state experts. Here’s an overview of our activities. Many hands make light work. Please join us!

water sample bottles

Collecting water quality data

Data on the vital signs of lake health were collected in May and August of 2023 and compared to historical data. This first year of an ongoing lake monitoring program revealed significant oxygen depletion in the deeper “dead zone” sections of the lake.

Mitigating nutrient overloading

Human development overloads the watershed with phosphates. For nearly four decades, the Association has championed low-phosphate living, responsible septic system design, reduced runoff, and channel clearing. Monitoring data opens the door to remediation options.

Building a watershed coalition

In 2020, the Association helped launch and guide a coalition for watershed coordination and management, joining with Seaside Sustainability, Senator Bruce Tarr, state representatives, and local individuals and organizations.

Fending off algae blooms

A catalyst for the coalition’s formation was a 2020 algae bloom that closed the lake for 19 days. The EPA warns that climate change makes lakes much more susceptible to blooms. Reducing the risk is possible but requires careful data collection and action in advance.

Reducing invasive plant growth

In the early 80s, an Asian invasive plant, cabomba, jumped from aquarium to motorboat prop to the lake and ponds. Since then, the Association scans periodically for other invasives, and has experimented with hydroraking (expensive and ineffective).

Improving alewife migration

Each spring since the last ice age, alewife migrate to the lake and ponds to spawn and replenish the oceanic food chain. The Association helps keep Alewife Brook open through a close collaboration with Marine Fisheries and the Town of Essex.

Protecting public water supplies

Manchester and Essex have public wells in the watershed and other towns may turn to the watershed for future town water. Our stewardship today will impact the quality of these precious water resources for generations to come.

Promoting responsible land use

The Association advocates for the watershed on major development projects and, in concert with the watershed coalition, is moving towards a sustainable watershed management plan in the years ahead.