Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance – Engaging Students in Pollution Control

The headwaters of the Great Bay estuary form in Wakefield, NH and Acton, Maine. A series of lakes and ponds converge to form the Salmon Falls River which flows south, meets with the Cocheco River to form the mighty Piscataqua River and that flows south into Little Bay, Great Bay and/or out into the Atlantic. Not only does water flow south through the watershed but so does pollution, soils that have eroded and nutrients. Actions to prevent pollution at the headwaters are vitally important to addressing pollution problems downstream so as to avoid an even larger cumulative effect.

The Acton Wakefield Watersheds Alliance (AWWA) has been working on preventing pollution in the headwaters lakes, ponds, rivers and streams since 2005. With the help of the NH Dept. of Environmental Services Watershed Assistance Grant ProgramAWWA formed the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC) in 2006.

The 2013 YCC ready to get to work!

The 2013 YCC ready to get to work!

The YCC is starting their 8th season this year installing erosion control Best Management Practices (BMPs) on lakefront properties in Wakefield and Acton. The YCC provides local youth with summer jobs and gives the students an opportunity to learn about lake health, develop essential job skills and be part of a team that is doing meaningful and necessary work. The crew leads a tour of the project sites at the end of the season and their pride in their work is very evident. This year’s tour will be on Friday, August 16th (Time & Location will be announced on AWWA’s website).

Over the past 7 field seasons, the YCC has installed 476 BMPs (e.g. infiltration trenches; waterbars; erosion control mulch, rain  gardens) on 10 waterbodies. The erosion control BMPs were installed at 123 project sites. AWWA also provided another 230 technical assistance designs to homeowners interested in doing their own work. The projects that have been completed have stopped an estimated 244 tons of sediment and 207 lbs. of phosphorus from entering the lakes annually.

Waterbars & Erosion Control Mulch installed by the YCC to avoid pollution into Great East Lake

Waterbars & Erosion Control Mulch installed by the YCC to avoid pollution into Great East Lake

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.

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