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Durham, UNH seek input on integrated watershed plan

Union Leader Correspondent

January 24. 2013 8:53PM

LEE - As the town of Durham and the University of New Hampshire begin work on an integrated watershed management plan, they are seeking the input of surrounding stakeholders.

Two public informational workshops were held toward this end on Thursday in Lee and Madbury.

The proposed plan is an effort to meet federal wastewater discharge and storm water discharge permit limits in one integrated effort.

During the workshops, proposed study elements of the future Oyster River Integrated Watershed Management Plan were discussed.

About 25 people, most from Durham, attended the afternoon session at the Lee Safety Complex.

"This integrated watershed approach seeks to combine knowledge, planning and implementation efforts with other watershed stakeholders to develop effective and sustainable solutions to reduce pollutant loading, including nitrogen, within the watershed," Durham Administrator Todd Selig said.

The idea for the plan is a direct result of the EPA's new and strict requirements related to nitrogen loads in Great Bay.

David Cedarholm, Durham's town engineer, said instead of focusing entirely on wastewater treatment facility upgrades that can cost millions of dollars, the integrated watershed plan will provide a balanced approach that looks at both facility upgrades and non-point source control.

He said Durham and UNH are trying to build a plan that works not only for their community and watershed but can be transferred to other watersheds within the Great Bay Estuary.

The Oyster River watershed covers about 31 square miles and runs through the communities of Barrington, Nottingham, Lee, Madbury, Durham and Dover. Durham and UNH make up about 38 percent of the watershed.

The plan includes identifying and quantifying non-point sources of discharge based on a New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services loading model, collecting baseline water quality data, defining target nitrogen load reductions and evaluating alternatives to meet target deductions.

Bill Arcieri with VHB, the Bedford firm hired to help put the plan together, said by this time next year they hope to have a draft implementation plan together for public review.

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