Great Bay Waterkeeper Report for January

Jeff Barnum

Great News for Great Bay
The Environmental Appeals Board (EAB) recently handed down an important decision upholding a Clean Water Act permit for the Town of Newmarket’s sewage treatment plant – a permit that will require much needed nitrogen pollution controls. Dover and Rochester appealed the permit (against Newmarket’s wishes – residents there voted earlier this year to fund improvements to the plant, which are already moving forward). Not surprisingly, the EAB upheld the scientific basis of the permit, concluding that there was more than enough evidence to justify the permit’s nitrogen limits. It is my strong hope that Dover and Rochester will not appeal this important decision and will stop interfering in matters related to Newmarket’s sewage treatment plants. It’s time for these towns to end their costly delay tactics, and start investing in solutions (the way Newmarket is doing).

Unfortunately, the Municipal Coalition (Dover, Rochester, and Portsmouth) continues to fight in other venues as well, arguing against the underlying basis of the EPA’s limits on damaging nitrogen pollution. Specifically, the Municipal Coalition has two pending lawsuits: one in federal court, a second before the N.H. Supreme Court (after having lost in N.H. Superior Court).

Another Peer Review
At the same time that the science is being questioned in courts, the Municipal Coalition and the NH DES are engaged in another peer review of the science. CLF submitted extensive public comment in November insisting that the four peer reviewers look at materials that were not included in the original list of agreed-upon publications. We also raised concerns that the peer review process is being used as a means to delay needed nitrogen-pollution actions in the estuary – a concern supported by the fact that a peer review of the nitrogen science in the estuary already has been done. The results of the new peer review are due out in February. The process moving forward from that point is unclear. I am sure that legislation and litigation will be in the mix.

Help Wanted: Clean Water Advocates for Great Bay
Show your love for the Great Bay estuary by becoming a Clean Water Advocate. I’m looking for folks on the Seacoast and in Southern Maine to get involved and speak up for Great Bay, the Piscataqua River, and all parts of our wonderful estuary by: helping with important votes for clean water, contacting your legislator when needed, phoning a friend, and coming to periodic meetings with fellow advocates to learn more about the issues facing Great Bay.

This is a call to action – we promise it will be rewarding, and it might even be fun! Join the team and be a Clean Water Advocate – click here to sign up.

Community Outreach
I hope you didn’t miss one of the two community suppers held at Robert’s Maine Grill in Kittery last month. A portion of the proceeds was generously donated to the Great Bay-Piscataqua Waterkeeper program. The food was fine and the crowds were big. Thanks also to Laura Byergo and Jean Eno of the Winnicut River Watershed Coalition for organizing a town-wide public event in Greenland in mid-December where we discussed the health of Great Bay.

I am always looking for opportunities to spread the word and continue to make presentations on the challenges to the estuary whenever and wherever I can. Do you have a speaking engagement in mind? Please get in touch.

Learn more about our work in Great Bay and our Waterkeeper program.

Focus Areas

Clean Air & Water


New Hampshire

About the CLF Blog

The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily represent the opinions or positions of Conservation Law Foundation, our boards, or our supporters.