NASHUA — A city alderman is on a quest to clean up the Nashua River embankment before the water is restored to its original height in October.
“We have a short window of time,” said Alderman-at-Large Barbara Pressly, noting the water has been lowered by nearly 10 feet to allow for improvements to the Jackson Falls Dam.
The water, however, will be back to its normal height in about two months, she said, and that gives the city ample opportunity to clean up some of the muck and debris that is now evident along the riverbank.
“We need to get a team out there to clean up the river. Now is the time,” said Pressly.
She has organized a river meeting for 6:30 p.m. Aug. 15 at Nashua City Hall, hoping the public will be interested in helping remove some of the overgrown vegetation and trash.
Pressly has invited a representative from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to attend the meeting, and is hopeful there will be good attendance.
The Nashua and Merrimack rivers are a great asset to Nashua and New Hampshire, according to Pressly, who believes the edge of the Nashua River should be photographed while the water level is so low.
In addition to forming a cleanup crew, she would also like some boaters to participate by mapping and photographing the exposed areas of the river so it can be documented for future use.
More than a week ago, the Nashua River was intentionally lowered about 8 to 10 feet to enable the construction of an adjustable crest gate at the Jackson Falls Dam, which is expected to decrease the water level of the river by about four feet during flooding.
To lower the 100-year floodplain zone and solve future downtown flooding, last year the city entered into agreements with Nashua Hydro Associates and Cotton Mill Square, LLC, for the $1 million dam renovation.
The adjustments to the dam will pave the way for a $26 million Cotton Mill Square project to begin, which includes the revitalization of a 108-year-old historic building on Front Street, about 100 apartment units, contamination cleanup and a riverwalk.
Last week, members of the Mine Falls Park Advisory Committee spent some time cleaning up trash, removing items such as tires, traffic cones, bike parts and at least one shopping cart.
Still, the volunteers said there was a lot of debris that was simply too large or too heavy to move.
Tom Galligani, the city’s economic development director, said despite some of the debris that is now visible along the edge of the river, it is better than he expected.
“This is an opportunity to clean some of that up,” he said recently.
The Jackson Falls Dam is owned by the City of Nashua, but is leased to Nashua Hydro Associates until 2014. Construction on the dam should be completed by the beginning of October, according to Galligani.
On Wednesday, Mayor Donnalee Lozeau said she is almost ready to announce a new endeavor that will hopefully beautify and protect the Nashua and Merrimack rivers. A new Waterways Advisory Committee will soon be established in the coming weeks, she said, which could help address some of these issues.
Anyone who has an interest in the history or the future of the Nashua River is urged to attend the upcoming meeting, said Pressly.