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Wake Boats, Solar Cleaners, and Other Lake Host Information

We are pleased to hear that our state’s Lake Hosts have been classified as “essential personnel” for the 2020 summer season by Governor Chris Sununu. This year’s Lake Hosts will be trained via a Webinar session, and maintain adequate social distancing at NH boat launches while they conduct their inspections. We are also pleased to announce that the Swains Lake Association has received our grant this year for the purpose of having paid Lake Hosts monitoring our boat ramp. Please consider being a Lake Host this year. If interested, contact Cindi Harrington at: (603) 664-9588, or email her at: That is a “zero” not a capital “O”.

Wake Boats:

An item of increasing concern over the past few years is the presence of ballasts in wake boats that enter area lakes. Ballasts are designed to add weight to the bottom of boats to help them sit lower in the water. Normally they are found in larger vessels, such as ocean liners and cargo ships, but they are also being used now in recreational boats. While “ballasts” could be anything such as solid weights, most of the time they are a bag or holding tank that draws water in from surroundings to “weigh down” the boat. The water holding capacity for most ballasts ranges from 60-600 liters, depending on the size of the boat. Herein lies the concern regarding their use. It is very difficult to completely empty the ballast when the vessel leaves a water body, which makes it easy to transport exotic animal larvae to the boat’s next destination.

Amy Smagula, Exotic Species Program Coordinator of the NH Department of Environmental Services, explained the risks of boats with ballasts in the Spring edition of NHLA’s “Lakeside” magazine. She mentioned a study from the Great Lakes Region where 13 ballast bags from vessels were examined. They found that none of these bags could be fully drained. All the bags contained residual amounts of water, ranging from 1 to 87 liters. Of those 13 bags, 9 did contain live aquatic organisms. Two of the bags contained live zebra mussel larvae!

In conclusion, the incomplete discharge of ballast systems, (mostly with no filtration), puts lakes and water bodies at risk of harmful organisms being transported from lake to lake. Ms. Smagula writes, “We know a drop of lake water can contain thousands of organisms - liters of water can contain hundreds of thousands of potentially problematic organisms.”

Also, a concern for Swains Lake that is not necessarily worrisome for deeper lakes is that since wake boats are heavy, and sit lower than other types of boats. Therefore they displace more water, which can stir up bottom sediment in shallower lakes. One of the questions Lake Hosts routinely ask arriving boaters is if their boat is equipped with a ballast. House Bill 137 in February 2019 formed a study commission to examine the positive and negative affects of wake boats. Their report is due out later this year.

References: Camphell,T. T. Verboomen, G. Montz and T. Seilheimer. 2016. Volume and Contents of Residual Water In Recreational Watercraft Ballast Systems. Management of Biological invasions. Volume 7.

Solar Boat Cleaners:

A solar-powered waterless cleaning unit has been developed, and if found to be effective, may soon be available for purchase by owners of boat launches throughout the state. Since most launches are public, we are not sure how this will work out yet. Known as the CD3 Clean, Drain, Dry & Dispose Unit, the NHLA has deployed the first of these waterless units to be sure those launching boats can indeed be clean when they put into a new water body.

The CD3 will be visiting public boat launches in New Hampshire during the summer of 2020. It is free to operate and boaters are encouraged to try it out. The unit is equipped with hand tools for removal of plant fragments, and other debris that may be attached to trailers, boats and motors. It also has a wrench to open drain plugs, so that trapped water that could hold microscopic animal larvae can be drained. A wet/dry vacuum will remove standing water from ballasts of wakeboards, pumps, bilges, and storage compartments. There is even a blower to dry areas that come in contact with the water.

We are anxious to try this unit out, although it remains to be seen how well this unit will work on a cloudy day. We are hopeful it will give us another tool to keep exotic weeds and harmful animal larvae out of Swains Lake.

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