Great Bay National  Refuge

Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge.

DOVER — The city manager says there will be a careful review of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s draft permit for wastewater treatment plants discharging into Great Bay Estuary.

On Tuesday, the EPA released its draft National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit. Dover is one of 12 New Hampshire communities which would take steps to reduce nitrogen discharges to Great Bay under proposed plans.

The estuary has for years experienced water quality problems such as low dissolved oxygen, algae blooms and a declining eelgrass habitat. These result in excessive nitrogen discharges, according to EPA officials.

Dover City Manager Michael Joyal addressed the draft permit through an email to city councilors on Tuesday night.

“Over the next few weeks, our staff will be reviewing the details contained in the draft permit in order to better understand how it will appropriately address water quality concerns in Great Bay and the operational and financial impact it will have on both our wastewater and stormwater systems,” Joyal said.

Joyal said once this review is complete, they will schedule a city council workshop to review the details of the proposed permit in anticipation of providing comments back to EPA prior to their public comment submittal deadline.

There is a 60-day public comment period for the draft permit, which was issued under the Clean Water Act’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System.

EPA New England Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel says they look forward to receiving the public’s input.

“We expect the end result to be a permit that achieves important reductions of nitrogen in Great Bay in a cost-effective way, which is good news for New Hampshire communities and their ratepayer customers,” Deziel said.

Gov. Chris Sununu pointed out in a statement that these draft rules allow for greater flexibility for local municipalities and said after years of collaboration between the federal, state and local governments, an adaptive approach that will result in nitrogen reductions has been created.

Commissioner for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Bob Scott agreed.

“This general permit is a unique solution that will allow for the communities around the estuary to link their management actions to additional science as it develops,” Scott said in a statement.

The 12 communities to be covered by the general permit are Dover, Durham, Epping, Exeter, Milton, Newfields, Newington, Newmarket, Portsmouth, Rochester, Rollinsford and Somersworth.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020
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