Enjoying the sunset. Photo courtesy of Tom Gross
Living on the Lake
Property on and adjacent to Conway Lake's shoreline can directly impact water quality and the health of the lake. Nutrients entering the lake from lawn fertilizers and leaking septic systems, for instance, can lead to dense aquatic plant growth along the shoreline, and increase the extent and frequency of potentially toxic cyanobacteria blooms. Sand and silt that wash into the lake can smother bottom-dwelling invertebrates, reduce the amount of aquatic and shoreline habitat for fish and crayfish, destroy spawning and nesting sites, and disrupt the food chain. Check out the things below that you can do to help preserve Conway Lake as we all love it.
Gloria Norcross and Kat Kelleher, two of the Conservation Program Assistants from NH LAKES that help evaluate properties for the LakeSmart program.
Steps to You Can Take to Protect the Lake
A fully functioning septic system is vital to keeping untreated effluent out of our groundwater and lake. It also prevents high levels of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus from getting into the lake and causing toxic cyanobacteria blooms. Pump out your septic tank and have it and the leach field inspected and repaired if need.
Make Your Yard Lake Friendly
Plant a “buffer” of native plants along the margin of the lake to stabilize the shoreline, provide wildlife habitat, and soak up rainwater and polluted runoff water.
Natural lawns need minimal maintenance, stay green during drought, grow well in shade, provide pollinator habitat, eliminate the use of algae-causing fertilizers, hold up to foot traffic, and increase water infiltration. Per Conway regulations, no fertilizer may be applied within 300' of the lake shore.
Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species
If you boat, you can help stop invasive plants and animals from spreading to Conway Lake—always take time between lakes to clean, drain, and dry your boat, trailer, and gear. Don’t let guests launch a boat into the lake unless it has been properly cleaned and inspected. If you would like to help our efforts on Conway Lake consider joining the Aquatic Invasive Species Patrol. Learn from the mistakes on Lake Winnipesauke where private boat launch sites have become hot spots for invasive milfoil.
Keep the Lead Out!
Lead fishing tackle is the leading cause of adult loon mortality in New Hampshire. Loons can ingest fishing tackle from a line or attached to a fish. Use only non-lead fishing tackle to protect loons and other wildlife – it’s the law in NH! Get rid of and replace any lead tackle in your tackle box.
Be a Responsible Boater
Your motorboat, skicraft, or personal watercraft, if operated improperly, can negatively affect lake quality, plants and animals, and the stability of the shoreline. By following some simple the lake-friendly boating guidelines, you can help ensure a clean and healthy lake while enjoying your boating experience?!
Operate away from shallow areas. Motors can churn-up sediment on the lake bottom. This leads to the nutrient phosphorus being resuspended in the water, which contributes to increased plant and algal growth and decreased lake clarity. Motors can fragment invasive plants, such as variable milfoil, potentially causing new areas of devastating infestations as the fragments travel to other parts of the lake. Wildlife and waterfowl may be frightened away from their homes and nests by noisy motors.
Do not operate at greater than headway speed (6 mph) within 150 feet of any shoreline, other boats, rafts or floats, permitted swimming areas, docks or mooring fields, and swimmers in the water. Not only is it illegal, but wakes erode the shoreline and damage property and wildlife habitat. Excessive speed is also a danger to others.
Avoid creating excessive wakes. They are a safety hazzard to boaters small crafts such as kayaks, canoes and paddle boards, they disrupt nesting loons, and erode the shoreline. Remember large wakes can travel long distances across the lake.
Participate in LakeSmart - A Lake Friendly Living Program
NH Lakes offers a free educational and evaluation program (Lake Smart) that can help you determine how lake-friendly your property and activities are, and to suggest things that you can do to lower your impact on the lake. The program helps you to evaluate your driveway and parking areas, pathways, structures, wastewater treatment systems, and yard and play areas. For properties along the water, shoreline and shallow areas are included. If they note areas of concern, they will recommend what you can do to better safeguard the lake. Those properties certified to be “lake smart” receive the LakeSmart Award. The program is free, voluntary, and non-regulatory. Check it out at :
Become Familiar with the State and Local Regulations that Govern Property Surrounding Conway Lake
Link to Town of Conway regulations:
Link to State of NH Shoreland Water Protection Act: https://www.gencourt.state.nh.us/rsa/html/L/483-B/483-B-mrg.htm
The state of NH and the Town of Conway have enacted ordinances/regulations for land adjacent to lakes that are designed to protect and enhance water quality, and to protect aquatic and terrestrial habitat. Properties surrounding Conway Lake are regulated by:
the State of New Hampshire Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act (all land within 250’ of the lake), and
within Conway Township, by ordinances specified by the Conway Shoreline Protection Overlap (SPO) District (all land within 300’ of the lake).
Regulations for property in Conway default to the stricter of ordinances specified by either the State or by the Town of Conway. In most cases the local ordinances take precedence over State regulations. (Eaton does not have its own ordinances so all lake property in Eaton must follow state regulations.)
These regulations include rules on:
• lot size,
• building setbacks,
• excavations (prohibited within 300’ of the lake in Conway),
• tree and brush cutting/trimming,
• septic systems, and
• the application fertilizer (prohibited within 300’ of the lake in Conway).
See the links to the left for more details on NH State and Town of Conway regulations that apply to property surrounding Conway Lake.