Rochester and Dover Jeopardize the Great Bay’s Recovery

Peter Wellenberger

In a move that will further delay progress cleaning up the Great Bay estuary, the Cities of Rochester and Dover, NH, have appealed a critical permit recently issued by the EPA to address the mounting problem of nitrogen pollution in the Great Bay estuary.

Whose permit did they appeal? Incredibly, Rochester and Dover are expending resources not to appeal a permit that affects their sewage treatment plants. Rather, in the height of arrogance, Dover and Rochester are appealing a permit granted by EPA to the Town of Newmarket, for Newmarket’s sewage treatment plant. Apparently, Rochester and Dover have decided that when it comes to the health of the Lamprey River in Newmarket, and Great Bay, they know best.

In a press release issued by the Town of Newmarket on December 10, the Town stated that “it is in the best interest of our community to work with the EPA to protect Great Bay instead of entering into a lengthy and costly legal process.” The Town has recognized this is not something that can be put off and hopes to move quickly to build a new, much-needed sewage treatment plant.

Unfortunately, Newmarket’s desire to constructively move forward with solving the problem of nitrogen pollution in the Lamprey River and Great Bay means nothing to Dover and Rochester. Filing this appeal could delay final permitting of the Newmarket sewage treatment plant for years, jeopardizing the health of the estuary. Click here to read more about Newmarket’s reaction to this unfortunate and unexpected legal maneuver by Dover and Rochester.

It is outrageous that Dover and Rochester – purportedly acting as the Great Bay Municipal Coalition, of which Newmarket is a part – would bring a legal action challenging another town’s permit. And if interfering in the affairs of Newmarket is not enough, Dover and Rochester – along with the City of Portsmouth – also recently filed a lawsuit against EPA challenging the regulatory process in the estuary (after having a similar lawsuit against the NH Department of Environmental Services thrown out by the Merrimack County Superior Court).

How much money do these communities plan to spend in their seemingly endless effort to delay cleaning up the estuary? In September, they had spent more than $750,000. Of course, the tab only continues to grow. Do the residents of Dover and Rochester really want their valuable city resources being used to prevent other communities from taking constructive action to protect their local waters and Great Bay?

If you are as outraged as I am by this latest development, please contact me at pwellenberger@clf.org to learn how you can help bring real progress to protecting Great Bay – now, and for future generations.  Enough meddling – we need to get to work and clean up the estuary.

For more information about the Great Bay-Piscataqua Waterkeeper and my work to protect the Great Bay estuary, visit: https://www.clf.org/great-bay-waterkeeper/. You can also follow me on Facebook and on Twitter.

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