Flood Risk Management
The principal objective of the dam and reservoir is to protect downstream communities. It is part of a network of five flood control dams in the Merrimack River Basin. These dams work together to control flood waters during heavy rains and storms until rivers begin to drop and the stored water can be slowly and safely released. Located approximately 8.6 miles above the confluence of the Blackwater and Contoocook Rivers, Blackwater Dam helps protect cities and towns from Concord, Manchester and Nashua, N.H., to Lowell, Lawrence and Haverhill, Mass.
Responding to disaster, Congress authorized the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a system of flood control dams in the Merrimack and other New England river basins. Blackwater Dam was completed in 1941 at a cost of $1.32 million and has prevented more than $15.3 million in damages. The reservoir has a storage capacity of 15 billion gallons of water. To date, record high water occurred during the flood of April 1987. The reservoir was filled to 93% capacity with a water level of 564.1 mean sea level (msl); the normal level is 518 msl.
The Reservoir Regulation Team in Concord, Mass., is the nerve center for managing all the flood control dams in New England. Hydrologists and engineers use satellite communications and computer technology to constantly monitor river levels and weather conditions. They decide when and where to close the floodgates of the dams and store flood water in the reservoir valley. The Blackwater Dam is a dry-bed Reservoir. The river flows through the dam unobstructed. Only when there is the threat of a flood do Corps personnel lower flood gates and begin to store water behind the dam.
The Blackwater Dam offers visitors approximately 3,600 acres of land and water for recreational opportunities. The pristine environment includes a meandering eight mile stretch of the Blackwater River, an excellent canoe and kayaking stocked with brown and rainbow trout.
The Blackwater reservoir is a great place for canoes and kayaks to explore wildlife and fascinating wetlands. Canoes and Kayaks can be launched at a variety of sites. Check the Maps link to the left for maps of the project area.
Life jackets, also called Personal Floatation Devices (PFD's), are required safety equipment in every boat. State law requires one wearable PFD for each person in a boat. We encourage everyone to always wear their PFD!
The Pristine environment of the Blackwater Reservoir includes a meandering eight-mile stretch of the Blackwater River, an excellent canoe stream stocked with brown and rainbow trout. Anglers can also try their luck at catching perch, bass, sunfish, and pickerel as well.
Hunting is another popular recreation opportunity. Hunters will find a wide variety of game species, including bear, moose, deer, pheasant, rabbit, grouse, and water fowl. Both gun and bow hunters a lit enjoy the solitude found within the reservoir.
Licenses and season dates are provided on the Fish and Game Website www.wildlife.state.nh.us
Deer Hunters: tree stands are permitted for day use only. Stands found on the property unattended will be taken down.
Blackwater Dam offers Horse trails and a site big enough to park Horse trailers. Cogswell recreation area, off of route 127 in Webster NH offers scenic trails for both horses and riders. These trails are great for beginners and experts. Riders are encouraged to use the water crossings but are also given options in the trail to avoid the water crossings as well.
The Blackwater Reservoir is a relaxing place for a picnic. There are many picnicking spots on the reservoir that provide visitors with tables and shade. These spots are located at Guideboard Road, Cogswell Road, Peter's Bridge and at the Dam.
Be aware that the picnic area does not have running water for drinking or washing hands, so be sure to bring your own beverages and consider bringing hand wipes.
Pets must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet, and pet waste must be properly disposed.
Reservations and Fees
Special events that have been held at Blackwater Dam include: kayak and canoe races, scout camping, dog trials, fire department and emergency medical technician training, fishing derbies, weddings, and triathlons.
If you are interested in holding a special event, you may apply in writing 60-days in advance. There is a fee for special events, and the amount depends on the event.
Shelter, campground reservations and fees can be made through the National Recreation Reservation Service at 1-877-444-6777 or online at www.recreation.gov.
Local forests are comprised mostly of mixed hardwoods interspersed with pine. A diversity of plant types is also found in the immediate region. Pine, birch, aspen, maple, oak, spruce, beech, and hemlock are some of the common trees found in this area. During the spring, many wildflower species add a spectrum of color to the forest and river environments of the area.
The project's forest resources are managed by the State of New Hampshire Department of Resources and Economic Development Division of Forests and Lands in cooperation with the US Army Corps of Engineers. Timber stands and wildlife habitat improvements, boundary line maintenance, forest inventory and mapping, commercial timber harvests and other activities are carried out under a detailed forest management plan for each area. All forest management activities are financed by income from timber harvests. There are no federal or state funds or any other funds used for forest management activities.
The mix of forest, field, and stream, provides habitat for a wide range of fish and wildlife, both resident and migratory. Deer, fox, turkey, and an occasional black bear, find food and shelter in the woods. Open meadows attract New England cottontails, field mice, kestrels, and migrating hawks. Beaver, otter, muskrat, and mink play along the shorelines of small streams, while painted turtles and leopard frogs bask in the shallows. Spring and fall migrations bring Canada geese and other waterfowl to join great blue heron fishing the backwaters.
The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, under agreement with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Division of Forests and Lands, stock upland game birds, assists with the maintenance and improvement of wildlife habitat, administers a fur-bearer trapping program, supplies and maintains waterfowl nesting boxes, and enforces fish and game laws. Hunting for deer, pheasant, and small game is permitted during the state hunting season.
The Corps of Engineers works cooperatively with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to stock various species of fish and perform water quality studies in the Blackwater river.