Mud Season in the Time of Social Distancing

Enjoy Mud Season and Protect Our Lakes!

by Andrea LaMoreaux, NH LAKES
(This article was originally published by NH LAKES. As long as you’re going to be at home, you might as well do some yard work!)
In New Hampshire, we take mud season and winter storm damage clean-up in stride. Despite the complaints, I think most of us actually enjoy mud season-often referred to the ‘fifth season’ in New England. Mud season typically starts in March and extends through April, and is advertised by the gaudy orange load limit signs that are posted on many town roads. After a long winter, mud season brings a welcomed opportunity to go outside and get some fresh air, sunshine, and exercise-just what the doctor ordered for a bad case of cabin fever. It is a time to clean up the yard, plan home improvement and landscaping projects, and guess when ice-out will occur on the lake. (Ed. note:  it was March 11 this year on Pawtuckaway)
If you are looking for an excuse to get outside this spring and enjoy what mud season has to offer, here are a few things you can do to clean up your property and protect the health of local lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams…
Sweep your driveway, walkways, and steps to remove leftover sand. Sand used to help keep roadways, driveways, and walkways passable during the icy and snowy winter months can cause serious problems when washed into waterbodies by spring rains. Sand deposited in aquatic environments can destroy fish spawning or nesting sites and sand particles suspended in the water can clog fish gills. Deposited sand also causes waterbodies to become shallower, often facilitating plant and algal growth-while having some plants and algae in a lake is a good thing, too much of either is not good for the health of the lake, or our enjoyment of the lake.
Survey your property for areas where runoff water has caused erosion. Take a walk around your property to see if recent rains have created any gullies or other eroded areas. If possible, fix eroded areas before the next rainstorm occurs. If you aren’t sure how to fix an erosion problem, contact a local landscaper or NH LAKES to get pointed in the right direction.
Remove storm debris in accordance with the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act. If your property is located within 250 feet of a lake or river, downed and damaged trees and trees posing an imminent hazard or threat may be felled and removed.
But, be sure to leave the stumps in the ground since stumps do a very good job preventing soil from being eroded off of the landscape and polluting the water (and, it is also illegal to remove the stumps). Trees and storm debris from severe weather events can be removed from waterbodies. If equipment is necessary for the removal of debris from a waterbody, be sure to monitor the equipment for fluid leakage and use temporary work pads to lessen the impacts to the shoreline. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services recommends that property owners take photographs of damaged trees and structures for documentation.
For the sake of our lakes-and for my mental health!-I’m looking forward to the next warm day to get outside and clean up my driveway and yard. Are you?
NH LAKES is the only statewide, member-supported nonprofit organization working to keep New Hampshire’s lakes clean and healthy, now and in the future. The organization works with partners, promotes clean water policies and responsible use, and inspires the public to care for our lakes. For more lake-friendly tips, visit, email, or call 603.226.0299.


Get Your 2020 PLIA Membership Stickers Now!


The 2020 Pawtuckaway Lake Improvement Association stickers have arrived! This year’s beautiful design features a photo captured by PLIA member Susan Medeiros: the Mama Loon with her chicks, our favorite lake residents.
Lake Association membership starts on January 1st and is good for the calendar year. Membership dues go towards educating the public on the conservation, protection, and improvement of water quality, natural shoreline, wildlife habitat, recreational resources, safety, and natural resources as they pertain to the welfare and interests of Pawtuckaway Lake.
The largest threat to lake health currently is milfoil and the PLIA has taken the lead on locating and eradicating it, scaling up and supporting a network of weed watches, snorkelers, and divers.
Please help support the PLIA by joining or renewing your membership for the 2020 year. It’s easy to do online or through the mail, by clicking here. You’ll be in good company!

Food at the Polls Fundraiser

New Fundraising Opportunity for the PLIA
The polls open early this year–7:00 AM! Both poll workers and the public will welcome refreshments throughout the long day.
We would like to offer food and snacks to the folks working at the polls as well the voting public on Nottingham election day, March 10, 2020. The polls are open from 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM.
To do this, we need volunteers willing to help coordinate a “food bank” for donations of baked goods, sandwiches, and crock pots with soups, stews, casseroles, and chilis to have for sale while the polls are open. You can bring your donation with you when you come to vote! We are also looking for volunteers to take a shift overseeing the food tables during the day.
We would love to hear from those of you willing to help with the coordinating, but also those able to donate sandwiches, baked goods, or crock pot dishes. This is a new venture for the PLIA but we hope it will be a successful one, and a chance to let the general public know who we are and what we do!
Please  email with your name, contact information, and message with how you can help. Thanks!

De-Icing Theory and Practice

This article was authored by Paul Goodwin of Watermark Marine Systems, LLC, and was published in the Winter 2020 issue of the NH LAKES quarterly newsletter Lakeside.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions regarding de-icing around docks, breakwaters, and boathouses during the winter months. First and foremost, everyone seems to call these units something different. I’ve heard bubbler, aerator, circulator, pump, aquatherm, and de-icer used interchangeably for as long as I can remember. In the end, they all mean the same thing: some sort of mechanical or electrical device to keep the freezing ice from wrecking waterfront structures.

Let’s review the theory and physical properties of de-icing around a dock. One of the unique properties of water is that as it starts to freeze, its density changes. Around 39 degrees Fahrenheit, water reaches its maximum density, creating a flip-flop effect that brings less dense, slightly warmer water to the lake surface. This occurs until all the water in the lake cools to 39 degrees. From there, the surface water continues to cool to 32 degrees (the point at which water is its least dense) and it expands to form ice. This is why lakes, ponds, and rivers freeze only on the surface and fish can survive in the relatively warm water below.

Ice damage caused by improper de-icing techniques. (Photo Credit: Watermark Marine Systems, LLC)

During the winter months, the ice expands and moves around. If a dock is frozen in the ice, it is likely to be damaged. If the water levels are low, and the ice rises due to rain and inflow, then pilings can be pulled out of the lake bottom. It is this combination of factors which causes the ‘ski jump’ type damage often seen on piling docks in the spring. The goal with de-icing is to open-up just enough water to keep structures disconnected from the ice sheet, but only enough to accomplish this separation.

It’s important to understand that a de-icer only prevents ice damage due to freezing expansion and water level changes. A de-icer does not protect a structure from large ice floes moving randomly around in the spring. Spring floe ice is best counteracted with ice protection pilings or by removing a dock. Some areas of our lakes are more regularly susceptible to ice floe damage from year to year. Of course, ‘ice out’ and the thawing process is not an exact science, so almost any structure can be at risk from ice floes.

Years ago, and this is the origin of the words ‘bubbler’ and ‘aerator,’ small air compressor pumps were used on docks during the freezing months and a garden hose-like pipe was wound around the structure, resting on the lake bottom. The air flow through the hose, which had numerous pin-holes along its length, allowed air bubbles to escape and race to the surface, bringing up warm water and causing weak spots or open water in the ice at the surface. These compressors ran non-stop and were relatively noisy. Neighbors were typically unhappy with the cumulative noise and often a cover was constructed to make them quieter. Covers could cause units to overheat and fail and, once the ice refroze, it was usually impossible to restore open water. One advantage of this type of unit was the relatively small amount of open water at the surface; however, as they ran constantly, they were not energy efficient.

This is an example of how to de-ice around a dock without creating an open water area that extends beyond the property. (Photo Credit: Watermark Marine Systems, LLC)

Most people today are probably more familiar with the propeller-type aerator units. These can be floating, hanging, bottom mounted, or dock mounted. These types of units can open an incredible amount of ice, if run constantly. These work by bringing relatively warm water up from the bottom and pushing it around the docks via the spinning propeller.

So, the question everyone asks is: what will work best for me? Unfortunately, there is no easy or correct answer. Each site is affected by freezing ice differently and one must consider a number of factors, such as, winter uses, sun exposure, currents, depth contours, prevailing winds, and other site specific factors to maximize efficiency and minimize too much open water. Do you like to snowmobile, ice fish, or skate and need safe access to the ice? Do you have a long dock, wide dock, or a special shorefront consideration? Are you around in the winter to monitor the ice? All these factors must be considered in choosing your best alternative.

We suggest having someone available to monitor your ice protection gear and starting out with either a bottom mount circulator in shallow water and a hanging unit in deeper water. By actively managing the circulators during the changing season, you can control the amount of open water and electricity used. Using a timer and a thermostat will allow you to accurately regulate the open water around your dock. Every site is unique. Through some simple experimentation and intelligent management of your ice protection gear, you can custom tune de-icing to your specific conditions without stirring up sediment or undermining structures. You will save a considerable amount of electricity and reduce the amount of open water around your shoreline structures, too!

BE ADVISED:  If you operate a de-icing unit…Effective July 14, 2019, the New Hampshire Legislature passed House Bill 668 which amended RSA 270:33. This amendment restricts the placement and operation of “aquatherms” to limit open water to directly in front of a lakefront owner’s property. Additionally, “THIN ICE” signs must be visible from ALL directions approaching the area, which means a minimum of three signs, arranged in a triangle so as to be visible from all angles.  As in the past, all shoreline de-icing equipment operation requires registration with the New Hampshire Department of Safety under RSA 270:34. Registration forms are available from your local Town or City Clerk for $0.50.

Volunteers Rock!

 “Volunteers don’t get paid; not because they’re worthless, but because they’re priceless”.

September 15, 2019 was truly a lovely Sunday afternoon in the Park; the perfect setting for a gathering of PLIA volunteers. Every fall the PLIA hosts a cookout at the Pawtuckaway State Park Pavilion to thank and celebrate its volunteers.

This year, President Tom Duffy recognized the hard work and tireless dedication of the folks who inspect boats in the Lake Host Program, look for invasive species in the WeedWatchers, gather lake and tributary water samples in the Water Testing program, search for and root out milfoil in the Milfoil Patrol, and pick up trash on Route 156 in the Clean and Scenic Road Cleanup Program. He also gave a shout out to the volunteers who run the organization, all year long.

Finally, Tom announced a very successful fund raising event that took place on Saturday, September 14, known as Paddle Poker. It was put together with the enthusiasm, energy, and dedication of a well-coordinated group of volunteers. And participants had loads of fun!

The PLIA appreciates that it could not not survive, and that none of its programs could operate, without the generous and spirited contributions of its volunteers. Everyone who treasures Pawtuckaway owes a debt of gratitude to these folks. Their hard work keeps the lake clean and healthy for all of us to enjoy! So, the next time you meet one of these special people, give them a big THANK YOU!

State Announces 2019 Lake Drawdown Schedule

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) has announced that the annual fall drawdown of Pawtuckaway Lake will begin on October 14, 2019.  It is anticipated that the water level will be drawn down to 4.8 feet below full pool.
For a complete list of the lakes and ponds controlled by dams owned by NHDES and their scheduled drawdown dates, click
You can track the actual level of water in Pawtuckaway through the gauge that is located on Dolloff Dam which measures the level of lake water and other conditions in real time, by clicking here.
And for an informative discussion of how the water levels of Pawtuckaway Lake are managed, you can read this website’s article titled Lake Level.
So, no hurry–there will be enough water in the lake to enjoy your favorite activities for another month. Enjoy, and
See You on the Lake!

Support the Pawtuckaway Lake Improvement Association Through Amazon Smile!

Support the Pawtuckaway Lake Improvement Association Whenever You Shop!
Now you can make a donation to the PLIA when you buy anything through! Here’s how it works:
Just click on this link or go to
This will take you directly to in support of the Pawtuckaway Lake Improvement Association. You can save this to your favorites or bookmark it so that whenever you decide to shop through Amazon, you can use this site and be sure that your purchases trigger an automatic donation from Amazon to the PLIA. You don’t even have to think about it and it costs nothing!
Each actual donation may be small, but they add up over time and so when you shop, Amazon donates. It’s a painless way to help the organization that protects the lake you love.
Pawtuckaway Lake thanks you; we thank you!

New Milfoil Divers on the Lake!

On Saturday July 6th, three open water certified SCUBA divers were trained and certified in exotic milfoil weed removal. We now have FOUR Pawtuckaway divers to remove milfoil when we find it!

FINDING the new growths of variable milfoil is the hard part of this important work.  Our team of snorkelers has been working overtime in search of new plants and growths. Once plants are found and identified, they are marked with floating markers. Then the divers know where to find the plants for removal.

In addition, we trained three topside “tenders” in kayaks who assist the divers to maximize their underwater time for search and removal. We need to train more of these topside tenders to protect the divers and snorkel search teams from wayward boaters, keep them supplied with tools and materials, and cart off the removed plants.  It’s a big job! In the photo below you will note the “diver down” flags strategically placed to indicate where divers are located.












In the last week we have logged over 60 hours in volunteer time on this most important mission.

Special thanks to Ted Aldrich ( who made the trip from Keene to train our volunteers for an 8 hour day!

Thanks to all our members who support our Lake Host and Weed Control Programs with your higher level dues donations.  It helps our reimbursement for materials, supplies, and training.

If you are interested in these volunteer activities, please contact us at

A Good Time at the PLIA’s Annual Meeting Saturday June 8

Record numbers of members attended the Annual Meeting of the PLIA on June 8, 2019, at the Pawtuckaway State Park Pavilion. Following coffee and refreshments, there was time to circulate and socialize, review the reports of Program Chairs, meet new neighbors and members, and scan the recently published updated Welcome Booklet. President Tom Duffy reflected on the PLIA’s activities and accomplishments in 2018, then Membership Chair Mike Coltin presented the 2018 Local Hero Award to Dee Decker, longtime PLIA member and volunteer. Dee was honored for her tireless work as coordinator for NH LAKES’s Lake Host program at Pawtuckaway Lake. She organizes volunteers, obtains funding, does trainings, recruits Lake Hosts, schedules shifts, compiles data and reports on boat inspections, advocates for lake healthy policies and laws, and steers our program into the success it has become. Whew! Weed Watcher Co-Chair Steve Soreff introduced our speakers from the Marine Patrol. Their talk was highly informative and engaging. The audience had many questions which the Officers answered with insight and good humor. Following a light lunch, some members opted to take a pontoon boat ride with President Tom Duffy, Water Sampler Jim Kelly, and Milfoil Team Leader Neil Santos to learn more about our Water Testing and Milfoil Management Programs.  

What’s In It For Me?

At the PLIA Annual Meeting on June 8th at 9:30 AM– just fun, information, refreshment, games, T-shirts, conversation, enthusiasm, community spirit, celebration, exploration, education, and environmental awareness—that’s all!

First off, some games to keep the kids busy while the grownups attend to more serious business under the shelter of the State ParkPavilion. Corn hole, ladder ball, or can jam, anyone?

The weather seems to be cooperating (so far), and that means one of our Board members will be leading a guided hike after a light lunch to take advantage of the beautiful trails in Pawtuckaway State Park.

For others, we will be offering a trip to the Park Camp Store for those who want to sample its wares, then an excursion on pontoon boats to learn more about our Water Testing and Milfoil Management Programs.

We have reserved the Pavilion at the State Park for the entire day! Entry for our Annual Meeting is free! Check out this map that highlights these events near the Pavilion where our meeting is taking place:

Let’s make this a banner year for Annual Meeting attendance! You don’t need to be a member if you want to come and learn about our organization. Neighbors and friends are welcome.