Dick Pinney's Guide Lines: Discharge harms waterways

By DICK PINNEY August 12. 2018 12:09AM

It's becoming more and more evident that the health of Great Bay and probably Little Bay and the upper Piscataqua River has been compromised, and the sin of this whole thing is that people with good intentions seem to be the cause of this disaster!

For many years, towns and other large-scale sources have discharged their sewerage into the Great Bay watershed, which includes Little Bay, the Piscataqua, and several smaller rivers and brooks.

To the best of our knowledge, this treatment was not dependent on any chemical treatment and therefore there was often quite a strong odor to the waste that was dumped in much of this area, especially during lower water-flows and the heat of the season. Most of the populace was not disturbed by this except during low water-flows and high air temperatures.

But this has changed and, because of the change, the Great Bay and its whole watershed has been very negatively impacted by towns and cities that have chosen to add a chemical to the sewerage to avoid the smell, but they continue to dump their waste without giving much notice about how this chemical addition has just about destroyed all of the precious eelgrass fields that, through their absorption, had kept the water's stench to a low level and, with the exception of a few hot days in the summer, was accepted as the cost of having a home on the beautiful Piscataqua watershed.

For a couple of months, or probably more, we've noticed that the wonderful eelgrass beds that were doing so well have all but disappeared. And we can only assume it's the result of harmful chemicals that are being added to the effluent, apparently in an attempt to get rid of odors.

If "there's a ying there will be a yang," as the saying goes. The eelgrass has all but disappeared, and the smell hasn't improved that much to justify that loss.

Eelgrass is a big part of the equation of the good water quality of the Great Bay system. We're not talking drinking water quality, but we are talking about water quality that allows the life and growth of healthy tidal tolerant plants such as eelgrass. As it stands right now, we challenge anyone to find one of the great beds of healthy eelgrass that our Great Bay was dependent on to allow this growth.

It's the perfect example of how unintended harm can be caused by the so-called "do-gooders" who seem to think that they are smart enough to tinker with Mother Nature. In many instances we are left with the exact opposite from do-gooders' innocent but harmful attempts at helping nature do its job.

We first dipped our tender little feet into the water at Little Bay when we were about 4 years old. Our dad's mom and stepfather always rented a great little camp right on the shore at the junction of Little Bay and the Piscataqua. Under the watching eyes of our adult relatives, a bunch of us kids had a blast wading around in the sandy, or often-times muddy, shorelines. We had a blast!

And we all needed a trip under the garden hose to wash off the muddy clay and eelgrass that adorned us when we came up over the steep banks after our hour or so of having great mud-ball fights with our young friends, or visiting relatives, or getting our face washed in mud when they could run us down.

Great Bay sand, mud and eelgrass seem to run in my bloodstream. And, at my age, we still only laugh when we're out in the shallows wading around and some wise kid - or even an adult - finds our range with a sloppy ball of muddy eelgrass.

It's in our blood, and we're lucky for it.

Drop us an email at DoDuckInn@aol.com and get out in the mud and have some fun!

Dick Pinney's column appears weekly in the New Hampshire Sunday News. Email him at DoDuckInn@aol.com.


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Dick Pinney

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