After Settlement, Great Bay Water Pollution Permit to Move Forward

CLF, Dover, Portsmouth, and Rochester reach agreement on key pollution issue

Conservation Law Foundation's Great Bay–Piscataqua Waterkeeper shares a wave of good news to celebrate the power community action in 2020.

Photo: Melissa Paly/CLF

March 26, 2021 (CONCORD, NH) – Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) and the three largest cities in New Hampshire’s Great Bay Estuary have reached an agreement that will allow a critical water pollution permit, recently issued by the Environmental Protection Agency, to move forward. Nitrogen pollution disrupts ecosystems and threatens the health of the estuary, and the agreement will ensure communities reduce this pollution while allowing for flexibility in achieving that goal.  

“Nitrogen pollution is a scourge on our Great Bay estuary, including the many bays and rivers that are part of it,” said Melissa Paly, Great Bay-Piscataqua Waterkeeper at CLF. “This agreement gives the communities surrounding Great Bay flexibility in how they will reduce this harmful pollution, but also accountability to ensure real progress. We’re looking forward to working together with these communities to advance innovative solutions to combat this problem and create healthier waterways for everyone.”

Nitrogen pollution enters the estuary from sewage treatment plants, stormwater, fertilizers, and septic systems. The Environmental Protection Agency unveiled the area’s Total Nitrogen General Permit last year, but it lacked specifics and benchmarks for pollution sources other than sewage treatment plants. CLF negotiated the agreement with Dover, Portsmouth, and Rochester to create greater clarity and accountability and to enable their increased nitrogen-reduction efforts to proceed now, without delay.

CLF experts are available for further comment.