Water Quality

Water Quality Monitoring

The quality of the water in White Oak Pond is tested by the White Oak Pond Watershed Association (WOPWA) according to guidelines set up by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Volunteer Lake Assessment Program (NHDES VLAP). The White Oak Pond water quality data is then interpreted and published in report format by the VLAP program staff.


You can browse, view and download the the annual White Oak Pond Water Quality Reports below.  The reports after 2011 are brief 2 page reports.  These reports do not analyze the White Oak Pond data specifically (only in aggregate) so along with the regional report, there are also links to the actual data collected beginning in 2011.  Prior to 2011, the VLAP reports were published in 2 parts, one more general report pertaining to all lakes and ponds and a second individualized ‘Observations and Recommendations’ report for White Oak Pond.


Paper copies of previous years reports and data are kept by WOPWA and SLA and may be borrowed.

Water Quality Homeowner Information

Helpful shoreline landowner information can be found in the below links.

Every landowner  is highly encouraged to read and ensure they are in compliance with the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act.

Landowners can also participate in the NH Lakes ‘Lake Smart’ program. Some WOPWA board members have participated in the program after the board discussed taking a leadership role in participation in 2021.

The ‘Best Management Practices and Resources for Pollution Control’ found in Appendix B of the VLAP regional reports prior to 2011 also provide good guidance for maintaining the water quality of the pond. 

A helpful quick checklist edited by WOPWA’s own Margie Bogdanow is the ‘Best Practices for Protecting the Pond’ .

Water Quality Reports and Data

Water Quality Reports

Water Quality Reports

Water Quality Data

To obtain additional copies of any report, contact the Volunteer Lake Assessment Program (VLAP website). Data sets can be obtained at the NHDES Onestop Data retrieval website:

  • Select ‘Onestop Basic Search’
  • Select Environmental Monitoring Data
  • Select Grab Samples and hit Go
  • Enter email address and file type
  • Select Project Name: Volunteer Lake Assessment Program
  • Select Waterbody Name: White Oak Pond
  • Select Related Lake Name: White Oak Pond
  • Select a date range or specific parameters

Additional Water Quality Information

Common Questions

These are common questions asked by members, often at the annual meeting, about water quality. The water quality monitors have the opportunity to pose these questions to the VLAP biologists and their answers are summarized here.


Question: There seem to be more lily pads on the pond then there used to be. Why would this be and is this a bad thing? (question posed at the Annual Meeting)

Answer: The amount of lily pads on a water body will fluctuate over time,  to some degree. The most likely things to cause a change in the amount of lily pads are a change in lake level (more shallow areas will support more lilly pads), disturbance (such as motor boat activity), and the dynamic between the algae and plant life in the pond.


In general, a lake or pond tends to be algal or plant based and tends to stay one or the other. White Oak Pond is a plant based lake. Algae generally get their nutrients from the water and plants generally get their nutrients from the lake or pond sediments. Thus an increase in nutrients in the water would cause the pond to have an increase in algae. In general, more lily pads is not a bad thing. They can help shade out algae and reduce algal blooms. Plants “can” add nutrients to the water but generally not enough quantity to change the dynamic of the plant/algae dynamic of the lake. Thus, some change in the amount of lily pads would be expected based on various factors and is not a cause for concern.  A vast change in the amount of lily pads or signs that the lake algal/plant dynamic is changing would be  a cause for concernt, but this has not been observed on White Oak Pond.

Invasive Weeds

New Hampshire ponds and lakes are becoming infested with several species of invasive, non-native plants.  White Oak Pond is not currently known to have any infestation of these plants but has the risk of becoming infested. There was discussion at the 2010 Annual Meeting about officially joining the NHDES Volunteer Weed Watcher Program (sister program to the Volunteer Lake Assessment Program under which the water quality is current monitored).

Anyone who paddles the pond can be helpful in monitoring for these invasive weeds.  To become familiar with the most common of these,  NH Lakes has a guide to Aquatic Invasive Species that you can view and possibly print to bring along on your paddle.

Also extremely helpful is the information at nearby Lake Wicwas’s web site comparing the differences between exotic variable milfoil and the similar looking native species of bladderwort and elodea with several nice pictures and some text to point out the differences.

If you are paddling and note something you think might be an invasive plant, take a sample of it in a plastic bag and contact one of the White Oak Pond water quality monitors or the SLA.

White Oak Pond Natural Resources Inventory

In April, 2021, the Board of Directors met to discuss the findings of the recently completed White Oak Pond Natural Resource Inventory and its findings with regards to water quality and to discuss the proposed Howard lot subdivision within the watershed on Lane Road. At the meeting, the board voted to draft and present a letter with their concerns to the planning board. The letter is available here.

The Board of Directors also met on June 1, 2021, to further discuss the proposed Howard subdivision and voted to retain the services of a legal expert as an advocate for WOPWA’s concerns in the planning board approval process.

The board minutes of April 29, 2021 and June 1, 2021 provide more details.

The Dam and Dam Repairs 2014-15

WOPWA acquired water rights to the White Oak Pond dam in 1995 while the town owns the dam itself. The two parties work together on the related issues of water level regulation and dam maintenance. A brief background on the historical water rights can be found here

Beginning on November 5th 2014, there was a drawdown of the water level of the pond “to inspect the dam and make repairs to the White Oak dam”. In mid-December, the water was low enough that the town built a cofferdam so that they could inspect the very bottom of the dam. There is damage to the bottom of the dam and the culvert under Rt. 3 may need additional work from the state.The damage at the dam is rapid leaking.

The following is the ‘White Oak Pond Dam Inspection Update’ from Walter Johnson to the Town of Holderness Selectboard on December 15th, 2014:

“The dam has been dammed up with the cofferdam to allow inspection. Repairs will be done next August-September. The wooden components of the dam have worn and do not allow for proper seating. The culvert that carries water under Shepard Hill Road has deteriorated and may need repair also. The State will have to address its box culvert under Rte. 3. The next step is to refill the Pond.”

In June, 2015, representatives from WOPWA met with Walter Johnson and submitted this summary of the meeting.

The topic was also discussed at the June 27, 2015 WOPWA Board Meeting and details of the discussion can be found in the minutes from that meeting. Some further clarification on water rights and WOPWA’s role in the process of the dam repair has also provided at the request of the board at the June meeting by Bruce Falby and is available here