Pearly Pond Sunset

Pearly Pond Management Planning Project

Project Background

Pearly Lake and Pearly Lake Beach are listed in the final EPA 2010 303(d) list as impaired (=not meeting water quality standards) because of harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms, caused by excess phosphorus, as well as the bacteria known as E. coli. The lake was closed to swimming on six days in 2012 and more in 2011. Data from the Volunteer Lake Assessment Program has shown a declining trend in total phosphorus and chlorophyll-a from 1992-2012, although both are still above the NH median. Most of the watershed is undeveloped, so the major human-influenced direct and indirect sources of phosphorus are likely to include sources very close to the lake, such as (a) phosphorus in sediments; (b) fecal dropping from geese, (c) non-point sources from adjacent lawns, parking lots, etc., (d) inadequate septic systems, and (e) runoff from State Route 119 and other roads that are directly adjacent to the lake. This project will develop a watershed-based management plan which will estimate amounts of phosphorus from each source, and will identify the most cost-effective and useful strategies to reduce phosphorus inputs. For more information, see The Water Quality problem, below.

Project Goals

The basic goal of the Pearly Pond Watershed Management Planning Project is to create a watershed management plan and a planning process which will:

  1. Identify specific water quality goals;
  2. Document how much phosphorus the lake can handle without harmful effects (=assimilative capacity);
  3. Identify the most cost-effective actions needed to reduce phosphorus to the levels that will eliminate the algae blooms;
  4. Produce educational and outreach events and materials for area residents and other stakeholders;
  5. Make recommendations for specific best management practices to control non-point source pollution.

The plan is now finished!!  Click here for the Pearly Pond Watershed Management Plan

Project Partners

The Pearly Pond Management Plan Project is made possible by a partnership among several organizations:

  • Franklin Pierce University is the official grant recipient, and will manage the project. FPUis hosting the website, designed and updated by website manager Rich Berube. Franklin Pierce will also provide funding for printing, mailing, meeting space, website, and water sample analyses. Student volunteers will assist in collecting data whenever possible and in outreach and education work.
  • Pearly Pond Association is leading the project with Franklin Pierce. The PPA provides volunteer labor, conducting all of the water sampling, and participating in outreach and education events as well as serving on the Pearly Pond Management Advisory Council (PPMAC).
  • Rindge Conservation Commission, is providing volunteer labor on the PPMAC and $1500 cash contribution for water sample analyses and other costs.
  • Rindge Planning Board, will provide volunteer labor by serving on the PPMAC.
  • Town of Rindge Planning Dept. will provide volunteer labor in meetings and for GIS work.
  • NH Dept. of Environmental Services, Watershed Assistance Section: Jeff Marcoux, Watershed Assistance Specialist, Tel (603) 271-8862,; Eric Williams NHDES Watershed Management Bureau, (603) 271-2358
    29 Hazen Drive; PO Box 95, Concord, NH 03302-0095

Project Manager is Dr. Catherine Owen Koning, Professor of Environmental Science at Franklin Pierce. Dr. Koning worked with Dick Isakson, Bob Scribner, and Anne Evans of the Pearly Pond Association to apply for the grant in the fall of 2012. The project began in May of 2013, and is expected to be finished by Dec. of 2014.

The technical details of the plan, such as the computer modeling, data collection and analysis, as well as design of solutions to the problems and the drafting of the management plan itself, will be conducted by Technical Consultant for the project. After distributing the Request for Proposals (RFP) in June of 2013, reviewing applications and interviewing applicants, Comprehensive Environmental, Inc. was chosen. Ben Lundsted is the Project Leader for the group.

The project is guided by the Pearly Pond Management Advisory Council (PPMAC), which consists of the following individuals:

  • Dr. Catherine Koning, Prof. of Environmental Science, Project Manager*
  • Dick Isakson, Chairman of the Pearly Pond Association*
  • Ann Evans, PPA Secretary*
  • Bob Scribner, PPA Water Warden*
  • Al Columbus, PPA member*
  • Montgomery Shaw, PPA member
  • Doug Lear, Franklin Pierce University Facilities Director*
  • Dick Emberly, Franklin Pierce wastewater treatment plant operator
  • Dr. Fred Rogers, Rindge Conservation Commission
  • Dr. Bill Preston, Rindge Conservation Commission
  • Phil Simeone, Rindge Planning Board and member of the Lake Monomonac Association

*Steering Committee members

Objectives and Timeline for the Project  

For more details go to: PEARLY POND MANAGEMENT PLAN GRANT AGREEMENT- Exhibit A, or Grant Objectives and Tasks (EXCEL version).

  • Objective 1: Preliminary Planning, Identify and secure consultants for the project. Spring 2013
  • Objective 2: Preparation of Site Specific Project Plan (SSPP). Spring-Summer 2013.   First SSSP for water sampling is available here.
  • Objective 3: Assemble additional water quality and septic survey data and determine the pond’s assimilative capacity for phosphorus. April-Oct. 2013
  • Objective 4: Establish the water quality target for phosphorus and other water quality parameters.  Measures of Success: Water quality goal is accepted by all stakeholders. Summer-Fall 2013
  • Objective 5: Estimate pollution reductions needed to maintain the water quality target and future watershed conditions. Fall 2013
  • Objective 6: Determine the actions needed to reduce current and potential pollution source loads in order to maintain the water quality goal. Winter 2014
  • Objective 7: Develop outreach and education components for project through website, publication and distribution of informational materials; educate the community on septic system maintenance, shoreline management and other Best Management Practices (BMPs). Ongoing throughout project.
  • Objective 8: Deliver draft and final watershed management plan, review with stakeholders through meetings,  and public forums in person and on-line.  Fall 2014; Dec. 2014.
  • Objective 9: Best Management Plan Designs:  Structures or actions are designed for specific locations, to reduce nonpoint source runoff and other pollutants.
  • Objective 10: Provide EPA Section 319 Grant Reports.  Dec. 2013, Dec. 2014.

Project funding

Funding Percentages Amount

Federal EPA 319 Grant funds requested (≤60%)



Required non-federal match amount (≥40%)



Other funding source(s)



Total project cost




The Water Quality problem

Pearly Pond beach has been closed to swimming on several occasions because of harmful blue-green algae (cyanobacteria) blooms, caused by excess phosphorus. Much of the phosphorus exists in the sediments, as a result of past permitted wastewater discharges from the Franklin Pierce Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF). The WWTF has since been upgraded to meet the new state permit standards, and it no longer releases any wastewater into the wetlands or streams that drain into Pearly Pond. Additional sources of phosphorus may include Canada geese, septic systems, and non-point source pollution from fertilizer, erosion, roads and other sources. The lake is eutrophic (=has too many nutrients) because of excess phosphorus, and is classified as an impaired water, because it does not meet its water quality goals for aquatic life and recreational uses. Steps must be taken to reduce phosphorus or the process of eutrophication will get worse.

What is Eutrophication?

Eutrophication is the process by which lakes naturally age, as sediment, soil, leaves and detritus wash in a fill up the lake. Naturally, this happens over hundreds or thousands of years. Humans speed up this process by increasing erosion and adding pollutants. The final result, if it gets really bad, can be a very unhealthy lake. Here's how the process works:

  1. Nutrients (phosphorus, nitrogen) are added to the lake (from fertilizers, soil erosion, acid rain, leaky septic systems, detergents, and other sources).
  2. The nutrients feed the algae.
  3. Algae grow quickly and create an "algae bloom".
  4. Algae die off as quickly as they are born, and they decompose
  5. Decomposition of the dead algae uses up oxygen, so oxygen levels in lake go down.
  6. When oxygen levels get very low, aquatic animals such as invertebrates and fish get stressed and can even die on very hot days.