Across New Hampshire: A time to talk water

Let’s talk about water. “We need to hear from you,” said John Gilbert, chairman of New Hampshire’s Water Sustainability Commission.

“Please join us for an evening that is designed with the general public in mind. The meetings will consist of small group conversations, not presentations by talking heads.”

  • What about water is important to you?
  • What are you concerned about?
  • In what direction should New Hampshire be heading with respect to water resources and infrastructure?

On May 8, 2012, the Commission will hold a statewide conversation on the subject of water at five sites around the state: New London, Keene, Manchester, Greenland and Berlin.

The Water Sustainability Commission, created in April 2011 to address the sustainable management of water resources and water infrastructure in the Granite State, is expected to report to the Governor by September 2012.

“The decisions we make or fail to make about water sustainability in the next few years will shape our futures and those of our children,” wrote Gilbert in an e-news announcement from NH-DES (Department of Environmental Services).

The meeting in New London will be held at Tracy Library, 6-9 p.m.

New Hampshire Listens, a project of the Carsey Institute at the University of New Hampshire, will facilitate the conversation.

Pre-registration required.

>> For more info and to register, visit the Commission on Water Sustainability or call (603) 862-0692.

Interested in learning more about water resources?

Check out the following:

Sunapee Looks at $8M Upgrade of Wastewater Treatment Plant

At the deliberative session in Sunapee held February 2 in the high school gym, voters amended only one article before being moving 26 articles to the ballot. The town, governed under SB2, vote by secret ballot on Town Meeting day, the second Tuesday in March. The polls at the Sherburne Gym, Route 11, will be opened March 9 from 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

  • For the Town Warrant, click WARRANT ARTICLES 2010. (See below for amendment to Article 26.)
  • For the 2010 Town Budget ($5.765 Million), click 2010 MS6.
  • For the 2010 Default Budget ($5.827 Million), click 2010 MS7.

A detailed presentation accompanied Article 8. It asks voters to approve an $8 million bond to upgrade to the town’s wastewater treatment plant that serves Sunapee (a 35% user) and New London (a 65% user of the system).

Selectman Steve White said it was an “important bond issue at this time.” He urged voter support.

The presentation included a video of the plant narrated by David Bailey, superintendent of the water and sewer department. A PowerPoint presentation by Neil Cheseldine from Wright-Pierce, an engineering firm, followed and methodically addressed plant history, maintenance challenges, recommended solutions, and the funding scenario.

Designed in 1969 and built in 1974, the plant now has major deficiencies related to the headworks, secondary clarifiers, and oxidation and dewatering of the sludge, Cheseldine explained. A handout for voters listed ten facility deficiencies.

The warrant article says that Sunapee’s share of the cost would not exceed $1.82 million. The greater portion of the cost would be paid by the Town of New London, that share would not be more than 42.25%. Grants and other funds would cover 35% of the cost. Sewer users would pay Sunapee’s portion of the cost, which would result in no impact to the tax rate. A 3/5th approval by voters is required.

“It’s a never ending battle to keep it [the wastewater treatment plant] operating,” said Bailey. “Stuff is just wearing out.”

This is an opportunity for the town to capture some of the federal stimulus money and upgrade the plant before additional failures or possible government mandates, explained Bailey. He went on to say the chance for this level of federal funding being available in the future is “slim to none.”

Spec Bowers, a member of the budget advisory committee, said the upgrade was “essential,” the plant was “in terrible condition, and they are doing the best they can with the equipment they have.”

Detailed information about the project is available at the town office building on Edgemont Road. Bailey encouraged voters to contact the water and sewer department if they have questions, need more information, or wish to tour the facility.

About 95 people including town officials were on hand for this year’s deliberative session officiated by Town Moderator Harry Gale. Discussion and presentations largely focused on two topics: upgrade of the wastewater treatment plant and  Article 23, an advisory question about expanding the proposed new library site at Sunapee Harbor to include the Old Town Hall property.

This year’s proposed zoning amendments, the town budget, articles seeking capital reserve expenditures for equipment and vehicles, and land conservation questions moved to the ballot, in most instances, after short presentations that appeared to satisfy the audience. Many articles prompted little or no debate during the three-hour session.

Article 26, submitted by petition, brought Rec Department Director to the floor. He offered an amendment to the article: “to raise and appropriate $12,000 to construct a ADA compliant bathroom at Dewey beach.” The goal is to build a uni-sex handicapped bathroom that can be accessible during times that beach is not staffed, said Blewitt. It would replace the need for a chemical toilet. The amended article passed; it moves to the ballot.

During the session,  Moderator Gale read to the audience each article (other than the text of the zoning amendments) before accepting a motion and second.  Statements and comments were then entertained. Prior to moving to the next article, Gale asked for a “sense of the meeting” with a voice vote. That’s the tradition in Sunapee under SB 2, Gale explained.

Hike Silver Mountain. Explore the Ashuelot River Headwaters.

    Lempster, NH - Photo by Jerry and Marcy Monkman, EcoPhotography, courtesy of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests

Explore Silver Mountain in Lempster and learn about the region's ecology, water resources and wildlife. Photo by Jerry and Marcy Monkman, EcoPhotography, courtesy of the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests

If you haven’t heard about the Ashuelot River Headwaters Project, here’s your opportunity to learn all about it…while exploring the mountains and ponds of Lempster. On Saturday, September 26, Dave Anderson, Brian Hotz and Chris Wells, all from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, will guide visitors on hikes of the area.

Two one-mile hikes to the summit of Silver Mountain will be offered at 10 am and again at 2 pm. Naturalist Dave Anderson, director of education for the Forest Society, will share information about the wildlife habitat and forest ecology of Silver Mountain. The area provides critical habitat for bears, bobcats, moose, fox, coyote, mink, trout, and other creatures.

A two-mile walk around the shorelines of Long Pond and Sand Pond will depart at noon. Old woods roads access the shore of Long Pond where a remote trail leads to the hidden ‘bear cave’ rock formation located near the shore of Sand Pond.

The Forest Society is working to conserve the 1,750 acres that encompass both the mountain and the ponds. The bald summit of Silver Mountain is a popular area for hiking and blueberry-picking and offers spectacular views to the south and west. In addition to the two miles of shoreline around Long Pond and Sand Pond, the Ashuelot River Headwaters Project also includes more than 11,000 feet of frontage along the Ashuelot River, which supplies drinking water to the residents of Keene and others.

The conservation effort is part of a bigger picture: the bi-state Quabbin-to-Cardigan Conservation Plan, the New Hampshire Wildlife Action Plan, and the regional Ashuelot River Land Conservation Plan.

The Forest Society must raise $2.18 million to conserve this dramatic landscape by December 1, 2009. According to the conservation group’s website, $1.18 million toward the project’s completion is coming from grants, the state-funded Land and Community Heritage Investment Program, NH Fish & Game LIP program, and a total of $500,000 from two private foundations. Active fund-raising is underway.

“Our goal is to establish a permanent Forest Society Reservation,” said Brian Hotz, Forest Society director of land protection.  “If we’re successful, the land will remain open to the public for the hiking, blueberry picking, hunting, fishing, and the other activities that people have enjoyed on the mountain for generations.”

Space on the hikes is limited, and preregistration is required. For more information or to register, call 224-9945 ext. 313 or email signup@forestsociety.org.

For more information about the Ashuelot Rivers Headwaters project, visit www.forestsociety.org/ashuelot. And here’s a link to  photos of the area.

“H2O: Film on Water” Exhibit Earns More Praise

Another great review of the H2O exhibit was published today by the Valley News. The critic “did not have high hopes” for the massive show “H2O: Film on Water,” but was mistaken writing:

“The individual works in the show are inventive, sharply focused, evocative of the power water holds and, most important, graceful. And the venue — 18,000 square feet on one floor of the restored Newport Mill, next to the Sugar River — is an extraordinary place to view art. The result is a blockbuster show of contemporary art.” To read the article in full, see The Power of Water in today’s Valley News.

Postcript – H2O: Film on Water

There are four venues along the Connecticut River Valley showing H2O: Film on Water, an exhibition hosted by Great River Arts.

In Newport, there is no entrance fee; a $5 donation is suggested.

For more information  including viewing hours at each location, visit:  http://h2ofilmonwater.org/

H2O: Film on Water celebrates our relationship to the natural world as seen through the eyes of almost one hundred artists.  With water as the exhibition’s thesis, the show is approachable by all audience members. Yet, given the sophistication and sheer diversity of imagery and viewpoint, each work will prompt viewers to re-examine this elemental force.  The theme is a timely one, given the focus on identifying climatic change and its effect both on our lives, and on those throughout the world who struggle to access safe drinking water. For this exhibition, we are partnering with Water for People, a non-profit organization that develops locally sustainable drinking water and sanitation facilities in developing countries throughout the world. – via the Great River Arts website

Related article: An exhibition review by Croydon community columnist Gayle Hedrington (Sunacom.com)

Hedrington Reviews “H2O Film on Water” at Newport Mills

“H2O Film On Water” at Newport Mills is a must see. As you enter the large exhibit room the sound of water surrounds your soul and infiltrates your ears bringing instant tranquility. The special lighting on the various exhibits creates a dramatic atmosphere. Neatly placed on both sides of the room are 20-juried videos which run about four minutes apiece. Each artist has depicted an aspect of water and how it affects our lives.

Read more of this review by Sunacom columnist Gayle Hedrington at Sunacom.com.

NH Water Projects Still Wanting for Funds

The $19 million in federal stimulus money soon to be flowing to New Hampshire for drinking water projects leaves another $577 million in drinking water projects unfunded over the next 20 years, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“New Hampshire is glad to be getting the federal stimulus money, and the state’s water suppliers were eager to apply for it,” noted Sarah Pillsbury, administrator of the Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau at N.H. Department of Environmental Services (NHDES), “but we had over $260 million in requests for only $19 million in stimulus money.”

(For DES’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act resources and project lists related to drinking water, visit…http://des.nh.gov/recovery/water_funding.htm). Continue reading

Lake Monitoring Worshop for Volunteers May 16

The NH Department of Environmental Services Volunteer Lake Assessment Program (VLAP) is holding its annual workshop on Saturday, May 16 from 8 a.m. to 12 p.m. at DES’s office building, 29 Hazen Drive in Concord.  Workshop participants will learn about VLAP and how to: Become part of an important program that helps monitor the state’s water quality, identify aquatic plants, and utilize lake sampling techniques. Also, workshop attendees will learn more about cyanobacteria and its potential link to neurodegenerative diseases. In addition to the popular lake ecology and aquatic plant identification sessions, a special guest will present on how you can volunteer for the Loon Preservation Society. The registration fee is $5.

Click here for more information. or contact Sara Steiner, VLAP Coordinator, at (603) 271-2658, or email sara.steiner@des.nh.gov.

Telephoto view from east shore of Lake Sunapee
Image via Wikipedia

Related information: The Lake Sunapee Protective Association volunteer water quality program started in the 1980’s. It now tests the lake’s tributary streams as well as coves and deep sites. LSPA’s Water Quality Laboratory at Colby-Sawyer College analyzes the samples and the NH Department of Environmental Services provides an annual water quality report based on its analysis of the data as part of the VLAP (Volunteer Lake Assessment) Program. The college lab also processes samples for about 25 area lakes.

Related websites:

Lake Sunapee Protective Association – Water Quality

Pleasant Lake Protective Association – Water Quality

New Hampshire Lakes Association

NH Dept. of Environmental Services – Volunteer Lake Assessment Program

Loon Preservation Society

Art and Water Resources at LSPA, Sunapee Harbor April 29

The Lake Sunapee Protective Association invites the public to attend an illustrated presentation, “Art and Water Resources: Tracing Social, Ecological and Artistic Trends” by Elisabeth Ryan on Wednesday, April 29 at 7 p.m. at the Knowlton House, Sunapee Harbor. Ryan received an Edwin W. Gaston, Jr. Scholarship award for her project the illustrates the “role water has played ecologically and socially in the 19th and 20th centuries.” Ryan is a student at Colby Sawyer College in New London.

NH Ranks Clean Water Stimulus Projects

Two proposed wastewater projects in Sunapee are listed on the draft priority list to Clean Water funds from the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). However, neither are amongst the top-30. The proposed Perkins Pond Sewer Project ($4.37 million) was ranked at 190 out of 207 prioritized applicants. The Waster Water Treatment Facility proposal ($7.6 million) ranked 67. The New London upgrade proposal for the Sunapee wastewater facility ($5.925 million) was ranked at 148.

Amongst the top-ten prioritized applications: The Newport Guild Lagoon Closure ($2.4) ranked 6th and the Newbury Blodgett Landing WWTF upgrade ($1.1 million), 7th. Two smaller projects in New London and Unity were ranked amongst the top-30.

NHDES received hundreds of applications for ARRA funding. The state has listed on-line proposed ARRA projects and the ranking system.

The state also established a comprehensive ARRA website: nh.gov/recovery/

The NH Department of Environmental Services will explain the ranking of projects and seek public in-put at a hearing in Concord on Friday, April 3. That information is also available on-line. Public comment will be accepted until April 10.

Draft NH Clean Water SRF Priority List (pdf file 180 kb)

ARRA Clean Water Hearing Notice (pdf file 36 kb)

Related article: State DES Ranks Stimulus Projects (Union Leader)

Stimulus Funds for Water and Wastewater Projects

NH Gov. John Lynch and Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack on Friday urged local communities looking to upgrade drinking water or wastewater systems to apply for federal stimulus funding through state Department of Environmental Services.

“Local communities should be in contact with the Department of Environmental Services about their drinking water and wastewater system needs, so that the state can direct federal stimulus funds to create jobs and improve our state’s infrastructure and environment for the long term,” Gov. Lynch said.

DES has been working with local communities to identify projects that fall within the scope of the federal stimulus law. The department will continue accepting pre-applications from communities through Feb. 27.

Early estimates are the stimulus law will provide New Hampshire with $39 million for the Clean Water State Revolving Fund program for grants or loans for municipal wastewater system upgrades, and $19 million for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund program for drinking water system upgrades.

For more information related to potential environmental, water, wastewater, or stormwater infrastructure funding that may be a part of any stimulus package, go to http://des.nh.gov/organization/commissioner/pip/stimulus.htm.

Bud Fitch Explains NH Stimulus Components

From the nearly $787 billion federal recovery package, NH expects to get $860 million: $250 in Medicaid funding. $295 million for education. $315 for other programs.

$59 million is marked for ready-to-go infrastructure handled by NH Dept. of Environmental Services for projects to do with drinking water, waste water and the cleanup of contaminated brownfield sites.

Nearly $50 million is for weatherization and energy programs through the Office of Energy and Planning.

The NH Dept. of Transportation has already put jobs out for bid. It expects $129 million of which $11 million will go to the State Municipal Aid Program.

In the Union Leader article (Feb. 18, 2009) “NH hustles for its slice of stimulus pie,” Senior Political Reporter John DiStaso talks about the recovery package with NH officials including Deputy Attorney Orville “Bud” Fitch, the director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Stimulus. About education monies,

Fitch said some will go to the state’s education “stabilization fund” to smooth out the disparity in financial capabilities among school districts. “We’re still working on exactly how that will happen,” Fitch said. “Funds that are not used for either K-12 or higher education will then be distributed to Title I schools, which are a majority of, but not all, the schools in the state. It will be distributed in proportion to their Title I allotments.”

Read the entire DiStaso article via NH hustles for its slice of stimulus pie – Manchester- msnbc.com.

LSPA Hosts Water Resource Program in Sunapee

Telephoto view from east shore of Lake Sunapee

Image via Wikipedia

The Lake Sunapee Protective Association and NH Dept. of Environmental Services are co-sponsoring a NH Water Plan Information Session to be held on Thursday, February 26 starting at 7 p.m. at LSPA headquarters, the Knowlton House at Sunapee Harbor. The public is invited to attend. The meeting is part of the state’s follow-up to the publication of a NH Water Resources Primer. The Primer is designed “to inform policy makers and residents about the state’s water resources and the challenges of sustainably managing them.”

For information about weather related cancellations, please call (603) 271-7061. The DES contact is Paul Susca at (603) 271-7061.

LSPA Executive Director June Fichter recently wrote about the Primer in the InterTown Record, the local weekly.  See the Feb. 17, 2009 issue.

NH DES Web Page Covers Potential Stimulus Funding

The NH Department of Environmental Services has a new web page devoted to the stimulus package and to help municipalities and other interested parties. It offers information related to: Environmental, water, wastewater, stormwater or brownfields infrastructure projects that might qualify under the federal economic recovery package. It’s located under “What’s New” at http://www.des.nh.gov/.

Sunapee officials and department heads are looking at possible projects that could qualify for this federal assistance, according to discussion at a recent selectmen’s meeting. At the deliberative session February 3, the proposed engineering to sewer around Perkins Pond was discussed as one project that could be “shovel ready,”  if approved by the voters in March. See Article 19 on the 2009 Town Warrant.

Sunapee Conservationist Protects 16 Acres in Burkehaven

Last month, a dream came true for Virginia Anthony Soule when the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests accepted her donation of a conservation easement. Soule is a 27-year member of the Forest Society and an avid conservationist in the Sunapee region. The 16-acre Rockwall Farm has been her family’s summer home on Lake Sunapee since 1929.

“The conservation of his lakeside farm will help protect the water quality of Lake Sunapee, the source of drinking water for the Town of Sunapee, as well as the view of the property from the lake,” said Forest Society President/Forester Jane Difley. “It has been a pleasure working with Virginia to help make her long-held dream a reality.”

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