The Lakeport Dam is only about 222-feet wide and more than 60 years old, but it stands at a unique New Hampshire crossroads.
Upstream is Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake covering more than 44½ thousands of acres of surface area and plunging to a depth of up to 212 feet.
Downstream is the Winnipesaukee River, which travels through downtown Laconia (“The City of Lakes”) and then into Lake Winnisquam, the fourth-largest lake in New Hampshire.
Along its course, the water powers five different hydroelectric plants.
The river flows into Silver Lake in Belmont, which has no dam control. It is then joined by the waters of the Tiago River. The now-larger Winnipesaukee River rolls into Franklin, where an area of rapids attracts sports boaters.
Eventually the river merges with the Pemigewasset River to form the Merrimack River, one of the most important rivers in New England. The Merrimack passes through Concord, Nashua and parts of Massachusetts before reaching the Atlantic Ocean. Before it does, it provides water for wastewater facilities in the Lakes Region as well as in Concord, Penacook, Allenstown, Hooksett, Manchester, Derry and Nashua.
Those operations require a certain amount of pressure (or “flow”) in order to properly assimilate pollutants, according to a Department of Environmental Services informational website.