This year, the Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee (UMRLAC) received two new exciting support opportunities. Adopt-a-River Site Sponsor, Public Service Company (PSNH) of NH chose the UMRLAC as one of its “Power Play Partners.” The Power Play Program provides cash donations from the PSNH to the UMRLAC when the Manchester Monarchs hockey team scores on a power play. The Program also provides recognition of the UMRLAC including displaying its name on the Jumbotron during games and information about it on team publications. The Concord Cooperative Market membership voted to invite the UMRLAC to participate in its Coop Local Community Program. The UMRLAC will display information about its programs on the Coop’s bulletin board and receive donations and other incentives through the Community Program. Thank you to the Coop and PSNH for their recognition and support of the UMRLAC!
The UMRLAC has been re-writing the Upper Merrimack Management Plan this year through a grant to the Central NH Regional Planning Commission (CNHRPC) from the NH Department of Environmental Services. The CNHRPC has sub-contracted to VHB, Inc. who is working with the UMRLAC to provide technical support and facilitation for the project. The new Plan will address emerging issues in the upper Merrimack and provide vision, guidance, and watershed management recommendations for state agencies and municipalities. The draft includes logic model measurable outcome sections on water quality, water quantity, agriculture, recreation, wildlife, historical and archeological, geologic and natural features, fish and aquatic, vegetation, buffers and setbacks, and land and open space. The “first look” public session is planned for February to gain input from municipalities and watershed citizens.
UMRLAC is proud to continue its work on the eleventh year of the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP). The UMMP owes much of its success to strong municipal support and that from its Adopt-a-River Site Sponsors. The Program’s Adopt-a-River Site Sponsors include Aquarian Analytical Laboratories, Inc.; Aries Engineering, Inc.; Checkmate Expert Payroll Services; Elektrisola; Franklin Savings Bank; Franklin Wastewater Treatment Facility; Public Service Company of NH Corporate Offices and Merrimack Station; and Watts Regulator/Webster Valve. Many thanks to the Conservation Commissions and Towns and Cities of Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield for their ongoing support and for graciously hosting Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee meetings. This support has enabled the UMMP to expand its work including purchasing additional dissecting microscopes for use during Bug Nights.
For over ten years, the Franklin Waste Water Treatment Facility (FWWTF) provided E. coli sample processing for the UMMP with the assistance of over a dozen collection volunteers. The data are the first volunteer monitoring program’s to be entered into the state Environmental Monitoring Database. This bacteria sampling has led to the identification and elimination of several illicit discharges in the Franklin area. Illicit discharges are connections of sewage lines to stormwater pipes and result in the release of untreated sewage into the Merrimack River and its tributaries. Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program sampling identified several high bacteria occurrences that it reported to the NH Department of Environmental Services who performed investigations and worked with the City of Franklin to remove these discharges.
This year, the US Environmental Protection Agency recognized UMMP sponsor, Franklin Waste Water Treatment Facility, with the National First Place Award for Operations and Maintenance Excellence. Congratulations to FWWTF for their innovation and conscientious operation that does all that it can do to keep the Merrimack River as clean as possible.
Graciously hosted by St. Paul’s School, Bug Nights continues its popularity in the region, entering its eleventh year in 2007 with over 60 individuals volunteering their collection and identification services. The UMRLAC has mapped a plan for a ten-year data analysis and report of the UMMP along with a retrospective of the program. This analysis will guide planning efforts for the next decade.
The UMRLAC is grateful for its sponsors’, partners’, and municipalities’ support of the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program and other projects in the watershed.
Steve Landry continued to represent the UMRLAC and several other southern New Hampshire local river management advisory committees on the NH Department of Transportation’s Community Technical Assistance Program (known as CTAP). The CTAP is working to find community solutions in response to the I-93 widening. Michele Tremblay presented at the Watershed Conference in November about the UMRLAC’s experience with entering and accessing data through the state Environmental Monitoring Database. Tucker Noack, Franklin representative, presented information to the City Council about the UMRLAC and the UMMP.
The UMRLAC continued to review and provide comment on project plans and proposals including the relicensing application for several hydroelectric facilities on the Merrimack River, and site specific and wetlands applications at the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (Concord), Sky Meadow subdivision (Franklin), Oxbow Bluff subdivision and Manor Road subdivisions (Concord), West Road stabilization (Canterbury), and the existing and proposed landfills (Franklin and Canterbury, respectively). At the state Rivers Management Advisory Committee’s request, the UMRLAC reviewed a Surplus Land Disposal proposal in Franklin. The UMRLAC will be involved in the Concord coal tar dump application review.
This year, the UMRLAC bid farewell to representatives who represented their respective cities and towns. Drew Hoffman represented Canterbury and Edwin “Win” Robinson, Concord, who served several terms. The UMRLAC is pleased to welcome Anne Emerson, Canterbury’s newest “UMRLACer.” Anne comes to UMRLAC as an Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program volunteer.
Please visit UMRLAC’s website at www.merrimackriver.org for further information on the river, committee membership, activities, maps, water quality data, and photographs of brave and selfless volunteers in action. Watch for a new and expanded website coming in early 2007.UMRLAC meetings are held on a rotating basis in the six represented communities on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 PM. All are welcome to attend. For meeting schedules, locations and more information, contact Michele L. Tremblay, Chair, at 796-2615, or your local representatives.