Watchic Lake Water Level and Shore Conditions

Some have recently commented that the water level seems low. As of September 13 the water level is about 1 ½ inches below full pond (measured at the dam). A normal level for this time of year. Prior to this the water level was in fact lower, as it lowered about 2 inches on September 3 to prepare for heavy rain and wind from Hurricane Dorian, which fortunately did not materialize. Given that weather cannot be forecast at with 100% accuracy, the dam committee does their best to anticipate and respond to major weather changes… as much as we’d like it’s not an exact science.

Below is some additional info you might find helpful on how the Dam Committee tries to manage the water level and the impact it might have the shoreline.

Water Level: the water level will vary at different parts of the lake for various reasons, mainly being winds and proximity to inlets. The WLA will clear debris (if needed) and adjust the dam prior to, during, and after rain events to target the level at the dam to within 3” inches of full pond. WLA volunteers check the dam about every 3-4 days during the spring, and more often as weather dictates.

This year has proven more challenging due to the heavy rains. Last year (2018) we hit “full pond” on May 23. This year, full pond was achieved on May 2, and by May 10 were 2” over full pond. So far this year, the gate has been opened 11 days, versus zero days in 2018. The dam volunteers note the water level at the dam regularly, going back to a number of years. So far this spring, the water level at the dam has ranged from 2” under full pond to 2 3/4” over full pond, with most readings about 1” over full pond (on 6/16 level was 1” over full pond). As the spring progress, the level will stabilize closer to full pond.

Shoreline: Some property owners have raised concerns about the shoreline erosion. The condition of docks, rocks, walls, etc. along the shore are influenced by more than the small variations in water level. Most importantly, shoreline conditions are impacted by wave action and ice movement during the winter. This past winter, we experienced periods of extreme cold, followed by rain/warmth, which led to larger than normal ice flows along the shoreline. You may find that your dock has been damaged or moved.  A survey of the shoreline will be included in our Watershed Protection Plan.

The Climate: Whatever your position on why the climate is changing, we now have sufficient data to know that, like much of the northeast US, Maine is getting warmer, experiencing wetter winters and springs, drier summers, and more frequent extreme weather events (including floods and droughts). Wetter winters and springs, leads to increased runoff, changes to the shoreline,  and a higher risk of eroded soils and nutrients being washed into lakes. Courtesy of Roberta Hill at Lake Stewards of Maine. More here in 2019 Littorally Speaking. For us on Watchic Lake it means a continued focus on ensuring a good vegetative buffer along the shore to minimize nutrient rich runoff entering the lake.