The Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee, (UMRLAC pronounced Uhm’-re-lack) capped a busy year in 2017 with a full slate of meetings, events, monitoring activities, public programs, and other activities for the upper Merrimack communities and beyond.
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 provides a voice for the upper Merrimack River towns and cities through the river’s 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.
The UMRLAC reviewed and provided local comment on several project plans and proposals in the upper Merrimack including underground storage tanks in Concord and Franklin, an operation permit for Watts Regulator in Franklin, a whitewater park proposal in Franklin, herbicide application in Concord, and wetlands and shoreland permit applications in Concord. The Committee monitored and provided comment on several Federal Energy Regulatory Commission applications including Eastman Falls, Penacook Lower Falls, Campton, and Eversource facilities. UMRLAC representatives updated with new technologies its review guidelines.
The UMRLAC continued its tradition of professional improvement and hosted experts to present on a variety of issues. Presentations topics included underground storage tanks, the Suncook River avulsion, drought, MtBE, and Eastern Native Eastern Brook. The UMRLAC hosted a New Hampshire Rivers Council River Runners™ training session this summer with over a dozen volunteers participating.
The UMRLAC continues to support the Council and Friends of the Northern Rail Trail. UMRLAC representatives participated in and presented at the annual Local River Management Advisory Committees Workshop in May. The UMRLAC provided a letter of support to the Warner River Nominating Committee.
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 (UMWA) to assume and manage its non-statutory activities including community outreach, informative and data-rich website, St. Paul’s School of the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program Winter Series and Birckhead Science Lectures partnership, and the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP). In October, Stephen Landry and Michele Tremblay designed and presented, “You can learn a lot from a bug,” at the invitation of New Hampshire Audubon.
The Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program marked its twenty-second year in 2017. 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 courier Adrienne Hutchinson and Chantal McGuire. 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.
At its annual meeting in November, the UMRLAC elected officers Michele Tremblay, Chair; Steve Landry, Vice-Chair, Krista Crowell, Treasurer; and Gary Lynn, Secretary. This year, the UMRLAC bid farewell to and thanked Bill Dawson for his many terms of Northfield representation on the committee. His commitment and vision will be missed. The UMRLAC thanks Alan Larter, whose term ended in the summer, for his service to the City of Franklin and the committee. The committee welcomed Ashley Warner, representing Northfield.
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/Public Service of New Hampshire, and Watts Regulator/Webster Valve.
Please visit the UMRLAC’s 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 the past year. All are welcome to attend the meetings. For further information, please contact Michele Tremblay, Chair via telephone at 603.796.2615, email at UMRLAC@MerrimackRiver.org or through your representatives listed below.
Alan Larter (retired)
William Dawson (retired)
Ashley Warner (new representative)
Stephen C. Landry
Michele L. Tremblay