The Smart Report: Over the Top

Freedom–April 16, 2014–It has been only two weeks since my last report (“Almost Empty”). During that time, spring has come to Ossipee Lake. Much snow and ice has melted. Frost heaves are starting to level out, and the town has been in three times to grade our gravel road.

A good quantity of snow and ice remain, but the ground is starting to thaw in some places. The lake and most ponds remain ice-covered with open water around the edges. The ice sheet on North Broad Bay is moving from west to east and back again, depending on the wind. This may be my first year with ice damage to the stored docks.

As for height of the lake, it has been an amazing spring with the level up more than five feet in 14 days. Not much rain, but lots of snow melt. On Friday 04/04 the level reached 407.25’ (normal summer level). Just five days later it toped out at 409.65’ and has been holding at that level. Up to an inch of rain predicted for Tuesday evening. This rain combined with remaining snowmelt could add another foot to the lake level by Good Friday. The good news is that this would be two feet below the record high set in 1998.

I was at the dam middle of last week and it is wide open (as always in the winter). There was so much snow in the parking area and on the trail to the north side that I could not get to that area.

One observation I would like to record for future conversations is HOW LOW WILL THE LEVEL GO IN THE WINTER? This past winter (2013-14) the reported level got down to 404.09’ but never below and we had weeks of dry weather. Some oldtimers say the level can get down to 403.5 but I do not have information that supports that level. CAUTION: I am basing my observations on the DEP web site reports but have no way of knowing if the data is accurate.


Bob Smart

PS: I just had a response from Dan at the State DEP Dam Bureau. There is a downside limitation to the present reporting capability of the Ossipee Lake water level gauge. Presently it does not record below 404.09, but the water level can go below that reading. SO, 404.09 IS NOT ALWAYS THE BOTTOM OF THE BARREL. This can be important to some of us with driven wells. So far in 15 years I have never run out of water, but I become concerned when the reported level gets down to 404’.

1 comment

  1. Don 10 years ago April 17, 2014

    Recently the winter draw-down has far exceeded the 404 mark. Last year, and again this year I lost all but 12″ of standing water in my dug well. I draw my water from a foot valve in the standing water. Two years in a row I’ve lost my well when the foot valve started to pull air. This year in October I was forced to drive a point eight feet deeper below the sand level at the bottom of my dug well in order to restore water. I’ve know for several years that the 404 mark on the DES chart doesn’t tell the whole story and that the lake goes lower than that. As soon as I see my mooring block in Leavitt Bay the Bay is at about 403. As soon as I can walk on foot out past my mooring which is 60 feet away from the normal high water point shore line the level is at about 402. It settled this year at 403 then came the snow. It’s a bit nuts to draw the lake below a level that can be measured. They should use a second gage on the lake side of the dam. That way they will also eliminate the two or three day time delay between the levels being reported on the main lake at the Bearcamp River gage, and the hydraulic pressure in the channels that causes the delays. I realize it’s a delicate balancing act to draw the lake down to minimize spring flooding without creating other problems with water supplies.
    Does anyone know how often they do a “MAJOR” draw down well below the 404 mark, when is the next major one scheduled, and approximatly how low does it go? I am guessing that it goes to about 400 those years. I have a photograph of a pontoon boat high and dry in Leavitt Bay in October. I’ve been on Leavitt Bay for 20 years and the edge of the water that year was 3/4 of the way to the island.


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