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Souhegan (pictured here) and Lamprey Rivers the source of new, 100-page report on how to create an ideal stream flow for NH rivers to thrive

Sep 22, 2015 6:03 PM

Landrigan: In-stream flow program 15 years in making to devise way to protect NH rivers


Whether it's the cresting Connecticut or mighty Merrimack, rivers defined what New Hampshire became during the industrial age.

And today, they remain an iconic image.

NH1 News checked on a state program examining how best to protect these waterways.

"We want to be ahead of this so the systems we develop from now on are very robust and have redundancies so that people get the water that they need and the rivers are protected at the same time,’’ said Wayne Ives, a hydrogeologist with the Department of Environmental Services.

A staggering 15 years in the making, this in-stream pilot program is about making sure protected rivers don’t survive but thrive.

The quality of water is paramount but when you are talking about a rivers protection program the three things to protect are fishing, recreation such as boating and the wildlife or fauna along the riverbank.

The Souhegan River in the southwest and stretch of the Lamprey River in Durham and Lee went under the microscope.

"With all of these reports they are scientific but river specific and that’s an essential requirement,’’ said Ted Diers, a DES administrator who briefed lawmakers and stakeholders on Tuesday.

On the Souhegan, 15 water users, four golf courses, five water companies, four private firms and two other government projects. New Hampshire’s standard brings in nearly all users.

"Three garden hoses running full out is 15 gallons a minute so we have a pretty low threshold,’’ Ives continued.

The sweet spot is a river flow that’s not always the same but healthy enough for all

"That means maintaining a pattern of stream flow that rises and falls so that on any one period of time some species is very happy and unstressed and at another period of time even though the flows are completely opposite, a different group of species are unstressed and they are happy,’’ Ives explained.

Tucked in the report’s 100 pages, the money shot, $107K to finish this work, $454K for water management plans, $14k per year for stream gauges and $3.21 million for like studies on the 16 other protected rivers.

If policy makers want all rivers to get this protection, they better pick up the pace. Why? Because at this rate it will take 120 years to finish the job.


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