Water Quality, Bathrooms and Dogs

Ossipee – February 6, 2009 — Water quality, bathroom alternatives and dogs were among the topics at the second meeting of the Ossipee Lake Natural Area Working Group, the advisory committee that’s helping DRED official Don Kent plan the implementation of a management plan for the 400-acre preserve.

Sheila Jones, representing the Town of Effingham, and DRED official Kevin Donovan led a discussion about public bathroom alternatives that ranged from constructing an onshore toilet facility to purchasing a floating port-o-potty barge. While the group agreed that sanitation was a concern, there was disagreement on which bathroom alternative might be feasible and whether any kind of bathroom was appropriate to the character of the site.

After presenting their analysis of the onshore options, Jones and Donovan concluded that high lake levels, ice scouring, high groundwater levels and setback requirements made a shoreline bathroom impractical. Members of the boating community on the committee said that some boaters already bring onboard marine toilets to the site, and they agreed that others could be encouraged to do so.

Most agreed that there should be bathrooms at public ramps, such as DRED’s Pine River gateway, and there was general interest in exploring the idea of floating bathroom barges, which the State hopes to test on Lake Winnisquam. Given funding restraints, however, DRED official Kent summed up the discussion with the recommendation that the short-term solution is to encourage boaters to have marine toilets on their boats or return to onshore facilities.

Water Quality
The discussion about bathrooms led to a discussion on the quality of the lake water at the site. DES official Jacquie Colburn said her agency inspects public beach waters to monitor disease-causing pathogens via E. coli bacteria and toxin-producing cyanobacteria, or blue-green algae, which can be toxic to animals and humans.

Test results are generally available within 24 hours at the State lab in Concord. If bacteria levels exceed DES’ water quality standards, or if technicians identify a cyanobacteria bloom, the agency posts advisory signs and then collects daily bacteria samples until samples achieve State standards.

Town of Freedom representative John Shipman advocated weekly testing at the site, but the group identified a number of challenges in using DRED’s testing method. These include the remote nature of the site, which is only accessible by boat, and the need to deliver samples to Concord for processing. David Smith of Ossipee Lake Alliance suggested using over-the-counter bacteria tests as an interim step.

Kent formed a sub-group to look at the options and make a recommendation on water testing at the next meeting. In addition to Colburn and Shipman, the subgroup includes Bud Berry of the N.H. Lakes Management Advisory Committee.

Short Sands
At the request of a member of the public, DRED official Melissa Coppola conducted a presentation on the potential use of what some call Short Sands, which is the preserve’s farthest point to the northwest.

The presentation illustrated that Short Sands cannot be used for recreation because it constitutes the State’s best opportunity for protecting and conserving the Natural Area’s four natural communities and two remaining threatened and endangered plant species.

The Working Group also reviewed State Statutes and Rules applicable to the Natural Area, many of which are confusing or present conflicts because they refer to developed parks and beaches rather than natural areas.

Dogs present one such issue. Many boaters bring dogs to the site. But while State rules permit animals on some properties, they are prohibited “at state coastal and freshwater beaches, established picnic shelters, and historic sites.”

Natural areas are not specifically referenced by the rule, but a member of the public who attended the meeting, Ann Pilkovsky, pointed out that whether or not the shoreline of the Natural Area is a “beach,” as the State defines it, the entire property is an historic site.

DRED official Kent discussed the ongoing Division of Parks and Recreation rule revision process and said he would clarify how “beach” rules pertain to the Natural Area situation at the next meeting, which will be on February 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Freedom Town Hall.


  1. local1 15 years ago February 9, 2009

    good to see lots of discussion on this issue. in the meantime, however, the water will continue to be polluted. everyone must realize that water quality is not the first concern of the majority of the people who visit the sites and any expectation that enough of the visitors will bring marine toilets to remedy the situation is pure fantasy. until a real solution is found the only answer is to close the beach!!!!

  2. Bob McDonald 15 years ago February 9, 2009

    Floating bathroom barges, aka floating port-o-potty barges, may appear to be a creative idea but creativity is not going to protect the lake ecosystem or the water quality. This solution alternative should be considered a non-starter. Equally naive is to think marine toilets on private boats will become the norm. Has anyone considered how such a solution would be enforced? If shoreline restroom facilities can not be achieved, with a supporting annual budget, then this beach plan needs to be seriously reconsidered.

  3. getaclue 15 years ago February 10, 2009

    2009 will be my family’s 36th season on Ossipee Lake.

    In all those years Long Sands has always been a remarkably pristine beach area – astounding considering the # of visitors each summer. I’ve never once seen a broken bottle or ANY evidence of latrine action.

    In 2001, I metal detected (eat me, treehuggers) around the Big Pine and after less than 5 swings of the detector I came up with a silver 1934 quarter buried less than 4 inches down. No way has ANYONE else hunted that area in the past 40 years or it would have been the first thing found. The anti-detecting-swimming-walking-breathing signs are a joke.

    The south shore limousine liberals need to get over themselves and let people continue to responsibly enjoy.

  4. local1 15 years ago February 11, 2009

    dear getaclue,
    after reading your post I have to wonder what lake you are talking about. I’ve been on the lake since the mid 70″s and have seen a significant change in the amount and type of people who visit the lake. especially the sand bar by cassie cove…everything from diapers to beer cans. Do you think the detection of bacteria at long sands is a conspiracy theory??? I am all for “responsible enjoyment” but that is not what is happening here. As far as the signs go I agree they are a joke…unless there is enforcement…

  5. Lakefront Homeowner 15 years ago February 12, 2009

    I have also lived on the lake for 30+ years. We have been reduced to the haves and have nots. The only soultion is to put in a parking lot with porta-potties and long seasonal boat ramp off Rt.25. If anyone has traveled to Squam Lake, the State forced the issue. The have handicap accessable porta-potties that can be used by the public and boaters as well. The only difference is that there would be no boat ramps. This way the beach can be restricted to use up to the high water level with rest room facilities for everyone. I strongly suggest every taxpayer demand action from there town officials and the State. We all pay for the lake we should all be able to use it.

    Thank you

  6. local1 15 years ago February 13, 2009

    Dear Lakefront Homeowner,
    “We all pay for the lake we should all be able to use it”. That’s funny…I am an out of state homeowner. One of the few who pay a disproportionate amount of tax yet don’t enjoy near the benefits as the permanent residents. Of the 3000 Ossipee residents I am one of the 800 “part time residents that pay and provide a majority of the town budget…everyone may be paying taxes but a majority of the tax revenue is not paid by a majority of the people. To add insult to injury I ((we), those of us who are out of state residents) are not allowed to vote. We have no say in policy or how our money is spent. So, those of us who live on the lake have a vested interest in maintaining the quality of it. I agree about the “haves and have not’s” and I see the “have not’s” trying to take advantage of the “haves”. Today’s mentality “the Obama thinking” is that everyone must have a right to a good life…well the reality is that everyone has the right to try and earn a good life. If there is not a responsible effort to try and protect the lake it will, indeed, be ruined.

  7. Lakefront Homeowner 15 years ago February 13, 2009

    Local 1.
    I can’t determine if your own on the water like me or not from your comments. If you do then you must have seen people regularly using the lake as a toilet from their boats. I suggest you take the time to reread my proposal. It protects the sacred shore of short sands and the quality of the lake in general, as well as provides rest room facilites for all boaters and beach goers regardless whether they are “haves” like you and me or “have nots”.

  8. Chris Elliot 15 years ago February 13, 2009


    As an out of state homeowner, I share your sentiments. We are supporting the town, but we are getting none of the benefits – it is “taxation without representation” – we have a voice but it can be and is ignored because have zero political clout. The recent tax increases are a case in point – they appeared out of nowhere with no forewarning. I am not really sure what you mean by “the Obama thinking” – I have never heard him make such a statement, in fact he is much in alignment with your thinking. Regarding the Long Sands area – people are being short-sighted if something isn’t done in a matter of years it will be Lost Sands. It is time to fish or cut bait – strictly enforce the laws or provide a long term solution so all may benefit. Either will require some costs, some compromises and forward thinking.

  9. local1 15 years ago February 13, 2009

    Yes, I understand what you are proposing. I do own waterfront property and have been there for many years. Your comment about everyone paying for the lake just hit a nerve especially with tax season being so near. I’m sure there are many solutions that would help prevent or minimize lake water contamination but I am sure those solutions wont come without a hefty price tag. In this current economic environment monies for these types of programs are just going to be extremely limited. My main point is until appropriate funds are available (and that may be years) close the beach to prevent any further damage to the water quality…it’s a low cost solution and I am sorry for those who would not be able to use the beach but my concern is more towards preserving the lake… not ensuring the recreation for individuals who can not afford lakefront property.

    Mr. Chris Elliot,
    If you have not heard Obama’s socialistic comments on how he envisions the” new direction” for our country, then I submit you have not been listening very closely. Everything comment he has made from immigration to taxation, healthcare and housing has all centered around giving to those who have not been able to give to themselves…Obama is most certainly NOT in alignment with my thinking…I am in agreement with you on Long Sands it most certainly will be lost if no real action is taken…I’m not sure the town and state can make the hard decisions required to protect it…

  10. Lakefront Homeowner 15 years ago February 14, 2009

    My proposal is to construct a parking lot and seasonal dock without boat ramps. The porta-potties would be located in the parking lot not floating in the water for obvious reasons. My understanding of the Squam Lake project was that the State and not the local taxpayers paid for that project. The State has been very aggressive about public access to its lakes and those “have nots” who pay their boat registrations like the rest of us have rights to enjoy the water as well. Closing that area would do nothing as the State has no money to enforce it and the Marine Patrol can only enforce the laws pertaining to water. In the mean time the lake will continue to be used as a giant toilet.


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