Winchester Select Board presentation
The FLIA gave a "presentation" to the Winchester Select Board asking for $100,000 to help with the dam project and used the remarks in the PDF below for the discussion. You will see that the Select Board recommended $50,000 for a vote.
Please note that the the vote on Warrant Articles is March 12. If you are a town resident, please remember to vote on March 12, as we'll need all the support we can muster.
On July 9, 2023, flooding in southern New Hampshire washed out the dam that creates Forest Lake here in Winchester, N.H.
The FLIA, HL Turner, and NH DES Dam collected data, conducted evaluations, and looked at short term plans for 2023, as well as interim plans for 2024. Long term plans for 2025 are clear and remain the reconstruction of the dam. This event has done nothing to change the overall goal of renovating the dam. That work continues.
The weeks that followed were filled with paperwork, meetings, emergency permits, decision making, and site work. NH DES Dam, the FLIA and the Town of Winchester understand the value and importance of Forest Lake as a recreational asset to all of us on the lake, the campground and everyone in the community. Other divisions of DES like Watershed Management are already weighing in to help advise us and support decision making. The FLIA will move with hast to develop plans and execute them. However, there are rules and laws, and we will follow them, crossing T’s and dotting I’s.
Planning is already underway. Timing for all future actions is unknown at this time. Updates will be issued periodically over time.
A reminder to please stay off the dam and the construction road or we will be posting no trespassing signs.
We know everyone wants a close look. This is not a safe place to be walking around. Also, we have neighbors, and they are running out of patience having folks walk through their yards all day. It is bad enough that Tim and I have to be over there a great deal with contractors, please do not add to the nuisance factor.
Number one question we receive is what about next summer. We want to be very clear about what is happening. Details have not been finalized with the state and will not be until mid-winter when the next set of permits are signed off. Permits are on hold at the moment due to some re-engineering being addressed. That said the goal to reinstate the water height for next summer remains top priority for everyone involved.
Sandbar at the headwater of the outlet. Right now, that sandbar is the only thing keeping the lake at this current level. It is a natural dam helping to protect our water level. Under normal conditions there would be twenty-five inches of water flowing over that sandbar and kayak and boat passage would be fine. There is no plan to dredge that, any part of the outlet or the dam pond.
Kayaking or canoeing under the Rt 10 bridge. Please stop going under the bridge. You cannot paddle back out. People have tried and they all have to portage the kayaks up and over Rt 10 through the boat launch. We have a sign on the bridge hanging down to the water saying stay out. Please do not put yourself at risk.
Water Testing: The Forest Lake Improvement Association did some water testing on Forest Lake. The three samples came back with good results. E-coli testing allows for 88 parts as the cutoff for swimming. The samples came back 9, 6, & 3. All water has some level of e-coli. This lake looks good right now.
Dam Activity: We had a very productive meeting with H.L. Turner. They had been notified of the issues within 24 hours of the breach, as was the state dam bureau. They came prepared. This is the second emergency they have been involved with this season. Experience is always a good thing in a case like this. After debris was removed from the site, work was completed to begin the cut-off walls for the new dam using sheet pilings. This is not an extra effort because the cut-off walls are part of the new design. In short, we will use part of the new design to create our 2024 summer solution for normal water levels. Super sacks were lifted into place to protect the left shoreline from further collapse and loss and reinforce the pilings during high water conditions. These super sacks will eventually be relocated and become part of the work site coffer dam.
Cost: One question we have been frequently asked; “ will this add cost to the overall project”. Yes, it will. But we do not have much of a choice. The engineers are trying to employ tactics that will be redundant to the needs of the final construction program, such as using and re-using super sacks. Sheet pilling cut off walls that will be part of the 2024 summer solution and part of the final design. A construction road that evolves into a rip rap retention wall.
Goal: Our goals remain unchanged. Create a 2024 solution for normal lake levels and begin final construction of the new dam in September 2024. The experts on our team believe these are reasonable goals and achievable.