New Coalition Aims to Expedite the Clean Up of Great Bay Estuary

Peter Wellenberger

Since assuming the role of Great Bay-Piscataqua Waterkeeper six months ago, I have devoted all my time and effort to protecting the Great Bay estuary – a remarkable resource that is threatened by pollution from aging wastewater treatment plants and untreated stormwater.  What I said then holds true today – the threats to the Bay have never been clearer, and the opportunity to fix them never greater.

To create a stronger voice for Great Bay, I am pleased to announce that a coalition of organizations, including a business and a municipality, has come together under the name Rescue Great Bay to demand immediate solutions to clean up the estuary. Rescue Great Bay’s founding members are the New Hampshire Coastal Protection Partnership, EcoMovement, Winnicut River Watershed Coalition, Trout Unlimited-Great Bay Chapter, the Town of Newington, NH, the Coastal Conservation Association-NH Chapter, the New Hampshire Rivers Council, and the Conservation Law Foundation’s Great Bay-Piscataqua Waterkeeper.

Population growth, sprawl, and outdated water infrastructure are all contributing to the decline of the Great Bay estuary, pushing it towards a tipping point. Nitrogen pollution levels have increased dramatically, leading to the loss of eelgrass – a critical habitat for fish and other marine species- within the estuary.

The Coalition recognizes reversing these trends will require a multi-pronged approach.  Besides the need to invest in improved municipal infrastructure, the Coalition supports innovative solutions to reduce the amount of stormwater pollution, including efforts to ensure that homeowners are aware of the best practices to minimize their own runoff footprint. Regional cooperation and better informed land use planning will also help control sprawl development that often leads to increased water pollution.

Coalition members will periodically report on progress being made to clean up the Great Bay and publicize success stories to serve as example of effective measures that can be taken to prevent the estuary from collapsing. By contributing to the voices of progress, we hope others will take up the cause and join our effort.

We all benefit from clean water and whether you live within the watershed, conduct your business here or just enjoy visiting the estuary, it is our moral imperative to restore and protect the Great Bay for future generations. Please email me and learn how you can participate in the effort to Rescue Great Bay.

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