State Officials Will Review New Evidence Regarding 410 Rule

Ossipee — June 15, 2010 — State officials will visit Ossipee Lake on Tuesday, June 22, to get a closer look at evidence local officials believe supports their contention the natural mean high water mark for the lake is set too high.

The day will start with a boat tour of an underwater grave site and a sunken abutment of a bridge that once crossed the big lake outlet near Pequawket Trail, according to Ossipee Selectman Harry Merrow.

Jim Gallagher of the State’s Dam Bureau will later lead the group in a visit to the Ossipee River Dam, which has controlled the level of the lake since the 1800s.

Representatives from DES and the State Attorney General’s Office are scheduled to join Ossipee and Freedom Selectmen for the day-long event, along with State Representative Mark McConkey and Bob Reynolds of Ossipee Lake Alliance.

After the site visits, the group will meet in Ossipee Town Hall to discuss the findings and consider next steps.

By law, the State owns the lake and shoreline to the natural mean high water mark, which DES says is 410 feet above sea level, or about three feet higher than the lake’s summer level. Local officials and Ossipee Lake Alliance believe 410 feet is too high, and point out the State has no data to sustain its claim.

A recent Ossipee Lake Alliance survey showed the State owns at least a dozen lake properties, including homes, based on the 410 Rule. Twenty septic systems are also thought to be on State-owned land.

In an email message, Selectman Merrow cautioned that the State officials are unlikely to make any immediate decisions based on the site visit, and added that the process will likely continue into the summer.

“We will wait to hear from DES and then determine what will happen next,” Merrow said.

Local officials have previously said the issue may have to be resolved through legislation or legal action.

Merrow said the group’s meeting at Town Hall after the site visits will be open to the public.


  1. lake lover 14 years ago June 15, 2010

    Keep up the great work Mr. Merrow and Mr. McConkey.

  2. VAR 14 years ago June 15, 2010

    I like the idea of begging the state to give me back my property that I don’t really own but get to pay taxes on anyway….whipppeeee!!!!!!

  3. Ossipee Lake 14 years ago June 15, 2010

    The following is a letter in today’s Conway Daily Sun about last week’s Sun article about the 410 Rule:

    To the editor: I am writing to illuminate the 410 rule that Nate Giarnese recently wrote about regarding Ossipee Lake. I have some consternation with the fact that the government has no idea, according to what we are told, why they are using 410 feet as the high water datum for Ossipee Lake. However, given the current state of government this is no surprise. I am somewhat dismayed at the amount of time, energy and angst that this lack of facts has caused. A two-minute search on Google reveals that there is a source for mean high water level on Ossipee Lake. The United States Geological Survey topographical map of Ossipee Lake sets the mean high water at 406 feet. Google UNH old maps. As you know the USGS is the primary civilian mapping agency in the United States, charged with the responsibility of mapping the United States. Absent any other historical data, perhaps the USGS could be a reliable source to set the mean high water level of Ossipee Lake. Of course this might be a little too simple for the “government.” God help us all. Tom Kondrat West Ossipee

  4. R cherwek 14 years ago June 15, 2010

    The time has come to start organizing a class action suit to force the state to take timely, rational, and responsible action on the “410 rule.”

    Currently, the state is trying to finesse a solution whereby they can “have their cake (that is own the land) and eat it too (have us pay the taxes).”

    It is up to us to make sure that this is a no-go !

  5. Tom W 14 years ago June 15, 2010

    Tom Kondrat, thanks for interjecting a little reason into this debate. Unfortunately I am afraid that the government will not use such a simple benchmark. As you may know I have a very personal interest in this issue since my property is greatly affected by this issue and I have a septic system installed with state permits that is located primarily below the 410 level. This system was permitted within the last 7 years.

    We need a resolution on this issue.

  6. VAR 14 years ago June 17, 2010

    What is your rational for thinking the Gov. wont use the USGS benchmark?

  7. Steve Foley 14 years ago June 19, 2010

    …and a hardy Thank You to Ossipee Lake Alliance for continued attention to detail and interest in seeing justice prevails.


  8. Dave 14 years ago June 20, 2010

    My beach shows erosion at the 410′ point where the “high” water actually is. There must be something in that observation. If the state is using the flood stage as a benchmark, they are correct.


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