The Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee, affectionately known as UMRLAC (pronounced Uhm’-re-lack), continues its many and diverse statutory and discretionary activities. Established in 1990, the UMRLAC represents its six communities of Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield through its statutory duties including permit review and management plan coordination. The UMRLAC serves as the upper Merrimack River towns’ and cities’ advisory board through its designation in the New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program. The UMRLAC updates the Merrimack River Management and Implementation Plan (http://www.merrimackriver.org/managementplan/) and coordinates the activities in it. This year, Northfield and Canterbury representatives presented the results of the impervious study to their local boards.
The UMRLAC reviewed and provided local comment on several project plans and proposals in the upper Merrimack including Northern Pass throughout the UMRLAC area; a continuing after-the-fact shoreland permit in Bow; NH Department of Transportation I-393 in Concord and Bow Brook projects; Garvins Falls in Concord; Brookford Farm in Canterbury; Franklin Waste Water Treatment Plant; and Jewett project in Boscawen. The UMRLAC continued to monitor the Federal Energy and Regulatory Commission applications and updates on the Eversource Merrimack Station at Garvins Falls and was granted intervenor status for the Eastman Falls project. The UMRLAC provided review of the state’s Public Water Access Advisory Board inventory. UMRLAC representatives finalized the committee’s review guidelines and created a form to assist with pre-review before meetings.
The UMRLAC continued to invite experts to present on a variety of issues to help representatives better understand complex issues and policies. This year, the UMRLAC hosted Bill Arcieri from VHB, Inc. to present on MS4 regulated stormwater communities; Stephen Landry, NH Department of Environmental Services on the Suncook River avulsion and Leighton Brook stabilization; and Max Maynard on his New Hampshire Technical Institute Capstone project on the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program. The UMRLAC hosted its second New Hampshire Rivers Council River Runners™ training session this summer with over a dozen volunteers participating. The UMRLAC continues to support the New Hampshire Rivers Council and Friends of the Northern Rail Trail and has provided letters of support for the fundraising efforts of the “Friends.”
At its annual meeting in November, the UMRLAC elected officers Michele Tremblay, Chair; Steve Landry, Vice-Chair, Krista Crowell, Treasurer; and Gary Lynn, Secretary. The UMRLAC is represented by Mike Hansen on the Brownfields Advisory Committee administered by the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission. The UMRLAC wrote a letter of support for project continuation.
Non-statutory or discretionary programs include a variety of studies, planning activities, and programs related to the upper Merrimack River and its watershed. The UMRLAC is working with the Upper Merrimack Watershed Association to assume and manage its non-statutory activities including community outreach, informative and data-rich website, St. Paul’s School of the Winter Series Birckhead Science Lectures partnership, and the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP).
The Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program entered its twenty-first year in 2016. The UMMP depends on the high quality work of over a hundred volunteers each year who monitor river and stream health on the upper Merrimack River and its tributaries at a total of seventeen sites from Franklin to Bow. During the summer, volunteers collect river water samples and the Franklin Waste Water Treatment Plant analyzes them at no charge to detect the presence or absence of E. coli bacteria. The resulting data are used to determine if the upper Merrimack River is safe for swimming, fishing, boating, and other recreational activities. The information is shared with municipalities and other local officials for their health officers’ and other local officials’ use, as well as to the State of New Hampshire and the US Congress. Thanks this year to sample couriers Anne Emerson, Canterbury and Bill Dawson, Northfield. These Concord-to-Franklin pick-up and drop-off runs, carried out by these volunteer sample couriers, are time-consuming but are essential for timely sample chain-of-custody and processing.
St. Paul’s School continues to be the gracious host for “Bug Nights,” the UMMP’s educational and research program, which continues its popularity in the region with dozens of individuals volunteering their sample sorting and identification services each Wednesday evening. The commitment and quality of volunteers that participate in the UMMP cannot be overstated and is the primary reason this program has been recognized nationally for generating superior citizen science results. The Technical Information Team met to discuss program expansion plans.
The UMMP work would not be possible without the generosity of all six of its municipal supporters and eleven Adopt-a-River Site Sponsors. Their support assures that the program has the resources that it needs to continue its programs. Adopt-a-River Site Sponsors include Aries Engineering, Inc., Elektrisola, Essex/Briar Hydro, Franklin Savings Bank, Franklin Wastewater Treatment Facility, GZA Environmental, Inc., Nelson Analytical Lab, Eversource (formerly Public Service of New Hampshire), and Watts Regulator/Webster Valve. Current water quality data, generated by UMMP volunteers, are posted at www.MerrimackRiver.org.
Please visit the UMRLAC’s new blog at www.MerrimackRiver.org/forum as well as its website, www.MerrimackRiver.org for further information on the river, committee membership, activities, summaries from prior meetings, upcoming meeting agendas, maps, water quality data, and photographs of brave and selfless volunteers demonstrating their passion for water quality monitoring in the upper Merrimack watershed. Information is also available on Facebook and Twitter.
The UMRLAC meets on a rotating basis in its six represented communities on the second Monday of each month at 7:00 pm. Thank you to the Towns and Cities of Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Franklin, and Northfield for graciously hosting Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee meetings and for their financial support during 2016. All are welcome to attend the meetings. For further information, please contact Michele Tremblay, Chair via telephone at 603.796.2615, or email at UMRLAC@MerrimackRiver.org, or through your municipal representatives listed below.
Stephen C. Landry
Michele L. Tremblay
Harry Anderson (retired)