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Mar 28, 2017 12:07 PM

Needles polluting rivers in NH continues to be problem during opioid epidemic


CONCORD — Rivers in New Hampshire are being polluted with needles - a problem the Department of Environmental Services has been dealing with for decades.

Steve Landry of the Watershed Management Bureau said syringes make it into water systems due to a sewer overload.

When a bad storm or flooding hits areas such as Nashua or Manchester, the water does not go through a treatment facility. This then ends up in New Hampshire's ponds, lakes, rivers and streams, infecting our drinking and swimming water, Landry added.

Most people also don't understand that not all storm drains lead to treatment facilities, Landry said. Therefore, when people throw trash such as syringes down the drains, they are unaware that it lands in these bodies of water instead of being filtered out.

The president of the Clean River Project is asking for Massachusetts towns to pitch in money to patrol the Merrimack River after more than 1,000 needles were collected from it last year.

Rocky Morrison, the president of the Clean River Project, told FOX25 that he doesn't think the needles are coming from illegal dumping of medical waste, but rather an increase in heroin and opiate use.

Junk previously found in the river consisted of mostly tires, shopping carts, toys, appliances and even cars. The large increase of syringes is proving to be a concern.

Morrison is asking 15 communities along the river to join the Merrimack River Coalition. He's requesting each city or town provides between $18,000 to $25,000 a year that would go toward patrolling and putting equipment into the river.

This clean-up project would cover 44-miles of the 117-mile river.

The coalition hopes to have 25 floating trash containment booms from the New Hampshire line to Groveland, costing $1,200 per 100-foot boom. Previous booms in the river helped collect needles.

Local mayors have expressed interest in this project, including Lawrence's.

The river empties into the Atlantic Ocean in Newburyport, bringing health concerns beyond the Massachusetts communities.

Anyone who finds a syringe is asked to contact a local health officer, police or municipal public works to help with disposal.

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