Volunteers test local lakes to ensure water health

  • Frank and Janet Battaglia of Rindge test the water in the deepest portion of Contoocook Lake on Monday, as part of regular water testing for the state. Staff photos by Ashley Saari

  • Frank and Janet Battaglia of Rindge test the water in the deepest portion of Contoocook Lake on Monday, as part of regular water testing for the state. Staff photos by Ashley Saari—

  • Frank and Janet Battaglia of Rindge test the water in the deepest portion of Contoocook Lake on Monday, as part of regular water testing for the state. Staff photos by Ashley Saari—

  • Frank and Janet Battaglia of Rindge test the water in the deepest portion of Contoocook Lake on Monday, as part of regular water testing for the state. Staff photos by Ashley Saari—

  • Frank and Janet Battaglia of Rindge test the water in the deepest portion of Contoocook Lake on Monday, as part of regular water testing for the state. Staff photos by Ashley Saari—

  • Frank and Janet Battaglia of Rindge test the water in the deepest portion of Contoocook Lake on Monday, as part of regular water testing for the state. Staff photos by Ashley Saari—

  • Frank and Janet Battaglia of Rindge test the water in the deepest portion of Contoocook Lake on Monday, as part of regular water testing for the state. Staff photos by Ashley Saari—

  • Frank and Janet Battaglia of Rindge test the water in the deepest portion of Contoocook Lake on Monday, as part of regular water testing for the state. Staff photos by Ashley Saari—

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 8/10/2020 4:34:34 PM

Frank and Janet Battaglia of Rindge made their summer home their permanent one three years ago, when they moved to the shores of Contoocook Lake. So it’s important to them to see the lake they love stay healthy.

Donning a pair of black Crocs – good for stepping into the water, less ideal for slippery rocks and soft banks – Frank climbs into the water of one of Contoocook’s several inlets, armed with bottles to take testing samples. The samples, filled with water, and marked with details about the water’s flow and the current weather conditions, are sent to Concord, where they will be tested for levels of water clarity, oxygen level, bacteria, phytoplankton, chlorophyll, pH, phosphorus, chloride, and other measures of water health.

The pair are foot soldiers for the New Hampshire Volunteer Lake Assessment Program, a department of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services. Since 1985, samples have been tested and monitored so the state can track and understand the water quality trends for the 900 lakes in the state. While volunteers like the Battaglias collect water samples, the states eight aquatic biologists run tests and interpret the data.

When the state knows the typical water quality, they can also detect early when something is wrong. Testing at multiple spots in the same lake can help pinpoint if the problem is coming from a particular stream or tributary.

Frank – who also serves as president of the Contoocook Lake Area Preservation Association – and Janet took over the testing, which they usually do three times per year in the summer month, three years ago. In June, July and August, they spend about three hours driving around the lake to collect water from its inlet locations, as well as taking out their boat to collect samples from the deep water.

It’s a time consuming process, but one they’re happy to give up time for.

“Residents should know it’s safe, and without any kind of harm. We’re retired and have the time to go out and do this,” Frank said.

There aren’t often problems, Frank explained – Contoocook Lake typically tests as average for lakes in New Hampshire. Phosphorus levels, which can be affected by salt washed into the lake from treated roads are always something to watch, but typically, the lake maintains acceptable levels. But sometimes, human intervention is needed. The lake has been chemically treated for milfoil, an invasive plant, in the past, which reduced its invasion into the pond dramatically.

That’s the kind of intervention that volunteers like the Battaglias are working towards, every time they collect a water sample – measures to keep the lake healthy.

“We boat, kayak, canoe, swim, fish here,” Janet said. “Just like anyone, we want to know – and we want other people that use the lake to know – that it’s good quality and safe.”

 

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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