Lake Water Levels and the Weather

On the lake, we always want the water at “our” perfect level but we cannot always have it our way. Mother nature doesn’t always provide the right amount of rain at the right time and the lake levels at different times of year are determined by the State of New Hampshire. The lake level can’t just be adjusted the way “we” want, it is relegated by the State and mother nature. The “summer” level is defined from June 15 to Labor Day and the water level is to be at 34.20 on the gauge but not below 32.70 on the gauge, with variation being permissible to allow for evaporation and/or below average rainfall. This causes a very real problem because from December 15th to April 15th, the water is to be “maintained at 32.20 on the gauge”. Then, from April 15 to June 15, the water level is to be increased from 32.20 on the gauge to 34.20 on the gauge, with frequent inspections by the owner to control discharge to prevent damage due to high water. The problem is that if there isn’t snow melt or heavy rains, the water level doesn’t always increase as some people would desire.

We also have a requirement that, once every five years beginning on September 10, 1993, the water level is to be drawn down to 30.70 on the gauge by the following October 10 and held at that level until the following November 10 to permit repairs to lake shore properties and installations. This requirement is a problem for islanders, especially, because they often can’t get to their camps.

So, where are we this year? On the 4th of May, the water level is at 33.14 which is slightly more than a foot lower than what it is supposed to be on June 15th. It is also about a foot higher than it was supposed to be on April 15th according to the State of New Hampshire. Yes, we are not at the Summer level but it has recovered half of what it is supposed to recover. With the rain this weekend, it may come up a bit more. There are still many weeks before the mandated 15th of June level but if it doesn’t rain, it won’t happen. If you want high water levels, pray for rain. People wanting summer skies may not appreciate your prayers but rain is required to raise the lake level.

One thing to think about, however, is what happens when it rains. If it rains an inch, the lake will come up an inch but probably not much more. This is because an inch of rain can just be absorbed by the ground. This water will eventually enter the lake but, depending on distance from the lake, it will take years or decades. After an inch of rain falls, then water starts running off the surface into the streams. The second inch of rain will make a much bigger difference in lake level because of that “draining” water.

Just remember, if you don’t like the lake level, wait a minute. The New England weather may make you happy. But if it doesn’t rain, don’t count on the lake rising. Perhaps, you can bring it in by the truckload but you will need a lot of truckloads……..  You can always check water level by looking at the left side of this page and clicking on “lake level”.