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Reduce, Reuse and Recycle - 2-20-15

Reduce, Reuse and yes, Recycle those plastic bags properly… First of all, let’s make it perfectly clear that the solution to plastic bag pollution is to eliminate or reduce the use of this type of packaging whenever possible. But sometimes plastic is unavoidable. It seems like plastic packaging is everywhere.

The good news is the process of recycling has made it possible to create something new from most of the waste we generate.  Plastic bags are no exception, and not just those single use grocery and retail bags, but also bread and produce bags, sandwich bags, the overwrap on paper products such as toilet paper and paper towels and even plastic cereal box liners.

There are a few items, such as “biodegradable” or “compostable” bags, frozen food bags, and crinkly or foil type bags for chips and other goodies, that are not included in this waste stream. Generally, if the plastic film stretches when you pull it with your fingers, it's okay to recycle it at certain designated locations.

When cleaned, dried and brought back to participating stores, these items can be combined with recycled wood products and made into plastic lumber used to make decks or reprocessed into pellets or resin used to make new bags, pallets, containers, crates and even pipes. 

Recycle Responsibly
Plastic bags and thin film plastics are troublesome for most recycling facilities. These items are considered ‘contamination’ of single stream recycling, not only jamming up sorting machines but also resulting in higher hauling rates for municipalities when there is a large percentage of them in the single stream collection.

The bags and film can be difficult wastes to recycle because they need to be clean, dry and sent to a recycling facility specifically designed for them. In fact, many foreign countries, U.S. cities and the State of Hawaii have even placed a ban on plastic bags at retail outlets.   

  Plastic pollution is a huge problem for the environment so avoid the use of unnecessary plastic when possible. If you do end up with a collection of plastic bags and plastic film items, do not throw these items in with your plastic or single stream recycling.

Make sure they are clean and dry, then stuff them in a plastic bag from the grocery or retail store and place into bins located in participating stores. 

Remember:  
Reduce the amount of plastic you consume by choosing items that use the least amount of packaging and by using reusable tote bags. Reuse or repurpose the bags as much as possible and when all else fails, recycle those bags properly! 

For more information on how and where to recycle this waste, check out: Plastic Film Recycling Information

 GREENWorks Ideas for a Cleaner Environment
A publication of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Concord, NH (603) 271-3710


New Hampshire Coastal Oil Spill Exercise Planned for October 16

Concord, NH - The Portsmouth Oil Spill Response Workgroup is sponsoring an oil spill exercise on October 16, 2014. This exercise will provide participants with an opportunity to assess capabilities, plans, policies and procedures. It will focus on decision making, coordination and integration with other organizations during a significant coastal oil spill. The expected outcome of the exercise will be improved working relationships between various local, state and federal agencies, as well as the local oil industry.

A field component will be conducted placing about 2,500 feet of oil spill boom in the area of Pierce’s Island in Portsmouth, Jamaica Island (Portsmouth Naval Ship Yard) and Spruce Creek in Maine. The deployment will assess the capabilities of local, state, federal and contracted response assets to successfully place spill protection strategies and to work together.   

Exercise Scenario:
A significant spill of # 6 oil occurs early in the morning into the Piscataqua River due to equipment failure. Within a short time, response organizations initiate the response directly at the site of the spill. By 8:30 am the response Incident Management Team re-locates management of the response to the NHDES pre-designated Incident Command Post at the Pease Tradeport Authority, which is where the table top portion of the exercise will be conducted. 

The following agencies and organizations will participate in the exercise:
NH Department of Environmental Services

NH Fish and Game

NH Port Authority

NH Marine Patrol

NH Division of Cultural Resources

NH Homeland Security and Emergency Management

Newington Fire Department

Portsmouth Fire Department

Maine Department of Environmental Protection

Maine Inland Fish and Wildlife

Maine Department of Marine Resources

US Coast Guard First District

US Coast Guard Sector Northern New England

US Environmental Protection Agency

Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Facility Response Team

Sprague Energy, Irving Oil, Public Service of NH


For more information on this exercise please contact Rick Berry, Administrator, NHDES Spill Response and Complaint Investigation Section at 603-271-3440


DES Declares Air Quality Action Day - Unhealthy Air Pollution Levels Predicted for January 9 into January 11 - 1-09-14

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) is expecting air pollution concentrations to reach unhealthy levels for sensitive individuals in populated valley areas in southwestern New Hampshire, including Keene, on Thursday, January 9 through Saturday, January 11. DES officials are calling for an Air Quality Action Day and advise sensitive individuals in these areas to take precautions to protect their health by limiting prolonged exertion. Sensitive individuals include children, older adults, and anyone with heart or lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis. Even healthy individuals may experience mild health effects and should consider limiting strenuous or prolonged activities.

DES forecasts concentrations of fine particle pollution to be unhealthy for sensitive individuals in the above-mentioned region. The expected unhealthy particle pollution levels are a combined result of pollution transported from surrounding areas; cold, calm air; and temperature inversions which limit air movement. Temperature inversions occur during calm, cold nights when warm air above traps cold air below. Such events prevent pollution near the ground from mixing with cleaner air aloft. As a result ground level pollution concentrations can increase. Conditions are expected to improve by Saturday morning as wind speeds increase, resulting in better mixing and cleaner air. 

Communities located in valleys or other low-lying areas where temperature inversions are common are more strongly affected. Much of locally emitted pollution comes from heating devices, especially residential wood-burning fireplaces, stoves and boilers. On the infrequent days when fine particle levels are forecasted to be high and the winds are calm, if an alternative heating source is available, residents may want to avoid burning wood until the winds increase.

The severity of the health effects increases as fine particle concentrations increase.  People with asthma and other existing lung diseases may not be able to breathe as deeply or vigorously as normal and may experience symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath.  Symptoms of particle pollution exposure for people with heart disease may include chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue.  In addition to harmful health effects, fine particle pollution may create hazy conditions that reduce visibility.

For further information, contact DES at (603) 271-1370.  For air quality forecasts and current air pollution levels in New Hampshire, call 1-800-935-SMOG or visit the DES website at www.airquality.nh.gov


Stay on the “Good” List by Recycling Old Electronics - December 2013

This holiday season Dad is hoping to get a new big screen TV, Mom wants the latest tablet, Susie needs a faster laptop and Billy has to have the newest gaming system because his is 3 years old. These are certainly perfect gift ideas for one and all. But what to do with the old electronics that are being replaced? They certainly will not be sent to the Land of Forgotten Toys, but should still be handled with care - and recycled in a responsible manner. 

The average number of electronics in a US household is 24. We have become a revolving door of the newest electronics. In 2013 electronics sales in the US alone will be more than 200 billion dollars. With an increase in sales of new electronics, there is a growing need for end-of-life management of electronics. In NH 1 million computers and television units will need to be disposed of in the next 10 years. Currently a large amount of discarded computers and televisions are sent for disposal, not recycling, in NH. This presents a growing environmental problem for the state and the country.

Most of us don’t think about it, but electronics are filled with lead, nickel, cadmium and mercury - all elements that pose a risk to human health and the environment when not disposed of correctly. It is important to keep electronics out of landfills to decrease these elements’ prevalence but also because they contain valuable resources such as precious metals, copper and engineered plastics. All of these resources require sizeable energy to process and manufacture. Recycling electronics can recover valuable materials as well as reduce the need to mine for more. Every million cell phones recycled saves 35,274 pounds of copper, 772 pounds of silver, 75 pounds of gold and 33 pounds of palladium. 

By recycling and reducing mining efforts, we can lower greenhouse emissions, pollution and energy usage. We can help protect natural resources by extracting fewer raw materials from the earth. 

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, recycling a million laptops saves energy equivalent to the electricity used by 3,657 US homes per year. Electronics “take-back” programs are growing at electronics stores and some television and cell phone companies have their own programs. Schools and community-run take-back programs are starting to become more popular. Yet consumers must be careful where they recycle. The EPA warns that some electronics recyclers do not have environmentally friendly practices. 

The EPA suggests looking for certified “eCycle” locations. Their website http://m1e.net/c?158049860-4xHi7xQHSYmyQ%4064545439-83BVyjFwqG8.E   can help you figure out if your electronics company can help you recycle. Also consider extending the life of your electronics by donating them; just be sure to delete all personal information from the device and reset it to its factory settings first.
 
You can also help serve the environment by purchasing devices with environmentally minded characteristics form the start. Look for devices that:
-Contain fewer toxic constituents 
-Are made of recycled materials
-Are energy efficient
- Are designed for easy upgrading or disassembly
-Use minimal packaging
-Offer leasing take-back options 

So next year, when you are sitting on the big guy’s lap and he asks you if you have been good all year, you can say yes, I didn’t throw my electronics in the trash - I recycled them! 

GREENWorks
Ideas for a Cleaner Environment
A publication of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Concord, NH (603) 271-3710


DES Declares Air Quality Action Day
Unhealthy Air Pollution Levels Predicted for Today

Concord, NH – 9-12-13

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) is expecting air pollution concentrations to reach unhealthy levels for sensitive individuals in Rockingham County on Wednesday September 11. DES officials are calling for an Air Quality Action Day and advise sensitive individuals in this area to take precautions to protect their health by limiting prolonged outdoor exertion. Sensitive individuals include children and older adults, anyone with lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, and people who are active outdoors. Even healthy individuals may experience mild health effects and should consider limiting strenuous or prolonged outdoor activities.

DES forecasts unhealthy concentrations of ground-level ozone (the main component of smog) for sensitive individuals in the above-mentioned region(s). The expected unhealthy air quality is due to the persistence of high temperatures under sunny skies and light winds transporting pollution into New Hampshire from surrounding areas. Conditions are expected to improve on Thursday as clouds and cleaner air move into the region.

Symptoms of ozone exposure include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain when inhaling deeply, and shortness of breath. The severity of the health effects increases as ozone concentrations increase.
For further information, contact DES at (603) 271-1370.  For air quality forecasts and current air pollution levels in New Hampshire, call 1-800-935-SMOG or visit the DES website at www.airquality.nh.gov


MOOSE HUNT LOTTERY DRAWING IS FRIDAY, JUNE 21, 2013 

CONCORD, N.H. -- The annual drawing to select the lucky hunters who will be offered a permit to hunt moose in New Hampshire this fall will be held on Friday, June 21, at 9:00 a.m., at the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department, 11 Hazen Drive in Concord, N.H. Fish and Game will issue 275 moose hunting permits this year. The public and interested media are invited to be on hand to watch the excitement as the names are drawn. Winners are selected through a computerized random drawing.

Radio personality Peter St. James will broadcast live from Fish and Game headquarters from 6:00 – 10:00 a.m., with the drawing starting at 9:00 a.m. Tune in to radio station WTPL (107.7 FM), which can be heard from Nashua to the Lakes Region; or in the Upper Valley, the broadcast can be heard on 94.3 FM or 1400 AM. The station will also stream the audio on its website, http://www.WTPLFM.com.

Lottery results will also be available online – official lists of winners and alternates will be posted on the Fish and Game website by 11:00 a.m. on Friday, June 21, 2013. Please be patient; the large spike in web traffic on lottery day can cause download delays.

Limited-edition 2013 moose hunt T-shirts will be available for purchase online.

New Hampshire's 2013 moose hunt runs from October 19 to 27, 2013. For more about moose hunting in New Hampshire, visit http://www.huntnh.com/Hunting/Hunt_species/hunt_moose.htm.


DES Declares Air Quality Action Day - Unhealthy Air Pollution Levels Predicted for Friday and Saturday - 5-30-13

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) is expecting air pollution concentrations to reach unhealthy levels for sensitive individuals in coastal Rockingham County and at elevations above 3000 feet on Friday, May 31 and expanding on Saturday, June 1 to an area that includes all of Rockingham, Hillsborough, and Merrimack Counties, as well as at elevations above 3000 feet.  DES officials are calling for Air Quality Action Days and advise sensitive individuals in these areas to take precautions to protect their health by limiting prolonged outdoor exertion.  Sensitive individuals include children and older adults, anyone with lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, and people who are active outdoors.  Even healthy individuals may experience mild health effects and should consider limiting strenuous or prolonged outdoor activities.

DES forecasts unhealthy concentrations of ground-level ozone (the main component of smog) for sensitive individuals in the above-mentioned regions.  The expected unhealthy air quality is due to the persistence of high temperatures under sunny skies and light winds that will bring pollution into New Hampshire from surrounding areas.  Conditions are expected to improve on Sunday as clouds and cleaner air move into the region.

Symptoms of ozone exposure include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain when inhaling deeply, and shortness of breath.  The severity of the health effects increases as ozone concentrations increase.
For further information, contact DES at (603) 271-1370.  For air quality forecasts and current air pollution levels in New Hampshire, call 1-800-935-SMOG or visit the DES website at www.airquality.nh.gov


Celebrate Drinking Water Week: May 5-11

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) is celebrating drinking water from May 5-11, 2013. Governor Hassan has proclaimed the week “Drinking Water Week” in New Hampshire. The purpose of Drinking Water Week is to highlight the value of water to each of us in our everyday lives. 

This year marks the 39th anniversary of the Safe Drinking Water Act, which is a national effort to provide quality drinking water and protect the health of our citizens. New Hampshire citizens are served daily by approximately 2,400 public drinking water systems. Everyone relies on public water systems, either at home or away from home at work, school, restaurants, and public places.

During Drinking Water Week, DES is emphasizing the importance of protecting our sources of water and using water more efficiently, as well as the value, importance, and fragility of our state’s water resources. DES works with drinking water utilities to make sure that the water delivered to consumers meets all federal and state standards and is clean and abundant. These efforts are vital to New Hampshire’s economy and to the public health of our citizens.

The tasks facing public drinking water systems continue to be extremely challenging—especially in an era of scarce public funds. The drinking water infrastructure in many cities is aging and presents daunting financial demands. “In New Hampshire, the estimated funding need is $2.9 billion over the next 10 years for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure upgrades, repairs and replacement,” according to Sarah Pillsbury, Administrator of DES’s Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau.

A report issued in December 2012 recommended that the state “renew and reinvent partnerships between and among individuals, communities, state and federal governments, and the private sector to provide the necessary levels of investment” for drinking water and other water-related infrastructure.  The report, New Hampshire Lives on Water, was issued by the N.H. Water Sustainability Commission, which was established in April 2011 by Governor John Lynch and was charged with identifying strategies and management measures for ensuring that the quality and quantity of New Hampshire's water resources in 25 years are as good as or better than they are today.

To read the report: CLICK HERE 

“Today, New Hampshire renews its commitment to build on the successes of the past 39 years,” noted DES’s Pillsbury, “and we continue to work with all of our partners in the water community to fully realize the public health goals of the Safe Drinking Water Act through celebrating National Drinking Water Week.”


Don’t Be a Drip, Fix That Leak - March 2013

Drip. Drip. Drip. The average American household wastes more than 10,000 gallons each year from easy-to-fix water leaks—that’s the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, consider that across the country, easy-to-fix household leaks can add up to more than 1 trillion gallons of water lost every year, not to mention all the wasted energy used to treat and pump this water.

That’s why the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES), as a partner of the EPA’s WaterSense® program, is encouraging homeowners to find and fix leaks during the annual Fix a Leak Week, March 18 through March 24, 2013. Fix a Leak Week reminds homeowners of the easy steps they can take to help save water in their community now and for future generations.

Fixing household leaks not only saves water but reduces water utility bills—by about 10 percent. Be for water and start saving today with three simple steps: Check. Twist. Replace.

1. Check
First, check your home for leaks. An easy way to start is with your water meter, normally located in the basement.  Record the numbers on the water meter and do the same again in an hour or two during a time when no one will be using water.  The difference indicates potential leakage.  Walk around your home with eyes and ears open to find dripping faucets and showerheads and don’t forget to check pipes and outdoor spigots. 

Some leaks are not easy to find, including a common water-wasting culprit, the silent toilet leak. Take part in the Silent Toilet Leak Challenge during Fix a Leak week by placing a blue toilet dye tablet, available in the DES lobby, or by adding a few drops of food coloring to the toilet tank and waiting 10 minutes before flushing. If any color appears in the bowl during that time, your toilet has a leak. Most likely you have a faulty toilet flapper which is a very easy and cheap fix.

Visit this website for instructions on how to fix leaks and fill out the Silent Toilet Leak Challenge Survey to let us know you took the challenge and be entered to win a new water efficient showerhead and other prizes.

2. Twist
Apply pipe tape to be sure plumbing fixture connections are sealed tight and give a firm twist with a wrench. If you can’t stop those drops yourself, contact your favorite plumbing professional. For additional savings, twist a WaterSense labeled aerator onto each bathroom faucet to save water without noticing a difference in flow. Faucet aerators cost a few dollars or less and can save a household more than 500 gallons each year—the amount of water it takes to shower 180 times! 

3. Replace
If you just can’t nip that drip, it may be time to replace the fixture. Also, water-using fixtures that were manufactured prior to 1994 are much less efficient and should be considered for an upgrade. Look for WaterSense labeled models in your local home improvement store.  WaterSense labeled fixtures use at least 20 percent less water and are independently certified to perform as well or better than standard plumbing fixtures. Replacing an old, inefficient showerhead with a WaterSense labeled model will shrink your household’s water footprint by 2,900 gallons annually while still letting you shower with power, thanks to EPA’s efficiency and performance criteria. With less hot water passing through, WaterSense labeled showerheads can also save enough energy to power a television for a year.

For more information and tips about how to find and fix leaks during Fix a Leak Week, and for tips on using water more efficiently visit this website .

GREENWorks
Ideas for a Cleaner Environment
A publication of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Concord, NH (603) 271-3710


Be for Water: Participate in Fix a Leak Week from March 18 through March 24, 2013 - 3-15-2013

Concord, NH - To ensure enough clean water for you, your family and for future generations, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is asking consumers to take part in the EPA WaterSense Program’s Fix-a-Leak Week, from March 18 through March 24, 2013.

The average American household wastes more than 10,000 gallons each year from easy-to-fix water leaks—that’s the amount of water needed to wash 270 loads of laundry. If that doesn’t seem like a lot, consider that across the country, easy-to-fix household leaks can add up to more than 1 trillion gallons of water lost every year, not to mention all the wasted energy used to treat and pump this water.

Be for water and take part in Fix a Leak Week by checking, twisting, and replacing:

•  Check for leaks. Look for dripping faucets, showerheads, sprinklers, and other fixtures. Don’t forget to check irrigation systems and spigots too.

•  Take part in the Silent Toilet Leak Challenge.  Check toilets with silent leaks by placing a toilet dye tablet, available in the DES lobby during Fix a Leak Week or by putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank, waiting 10 minutes, and seeing if color appears in the bowl before you flush. Visit this website  and fill out the Silent Toilet Leak Challenge Survey to let us know the results of your test and be entered to win a WaterSense labeled water efficient showerhead and more.

•  Twist and tighten hose and pipe connections. To save water without a noticeable difference in flow in your bathroom, twist on a WaterSense labeled faucet aerator. 

•  Replace the fixture if necessary. Look for WaterSense labeled models, which are independently certified to use 20 percent less water and perform as well as or better than standard models.

To find out more about finding and repairing leaks and more about what you can do to save water more efficiently go to more info to save water.


Ask Not Only What a Fuel Efficient Vehicle Can Do For the Environment, But Ask What It Can Do For Your Wallet - February 2013 

Are you thinking of buying a car with your tax refund?  February is a popular time of year to buy a vehicle with the majority of NH dealerships promoting specials in honor of Presidents’ Day.  Purchasing a car is an important investment. With gasoline prices well above $3 a gallon, buying a fuel efficient vehicle makes sense. Fuel efficient cars use less gas, reduce the amount of emissions produced by your vehicle, and release fewer pollutants into the air.

Have you ever thought of purchasing an electric or hybrid-electric car?  Many hybrid-electric vehicles already travel NH roads. Plug-in hybrids and pure electric vehicles are starting to be purchased and leased in our state.  Hybrid-electric vehicles run on gasoline and electricity (from a large battery), allowing for increased fuel economy - over 50 mpg in some cases. Plug-in hybrid-electric vehicles get over 50 mpg; an electric motor powers the vehicle for the first 15 miles of travel before engaging the gasoline motor. The pure electric vehicle uses no gas at all. These vehicles can be charged via household electricity.

The federal government currently offers incentives in the form of tax credits for the purchase of plug-in hybrid-electric and pure electric vehicles.  A tax credit of $2,500 is allowed on a Toyota Prius Plug-in; $7,500 for electric vehicles like the new Nissan Leaf or Chevy Volt.  Vehicle owners can also receive a tax credit of up to 30 percent off the cost of an electric charging device for their home. 

Fuel efficient vehicles come in all makes and models. There are over 130 models from which to choose, from small cars to SUVs - each with combined miles per gallon (mpg) of 30 or better. These vehicles are listed on DES’ Granite State Clean Cars program website, along with a list of participating dealers (visit: http://m1e.net/c?158049860-isCSuSnN6mUdU%408502830-/V7Lm/iT5vjn2  

If you need a bigger rig, such as a truck, van or larger SUV the US Department of Energy’s fueleconomy.gov website lists “2013 Most and Least Efficient Vehicles.” This can steer you to a smart, fuel efficient choice in all types of vehicles. This website also has a feature that allows you to compare two or more vehicles. 

No matter what you choose for your ride, it’s bound to be more fuel efficient than the vehicle your parents purchased at your age. Since the 1970’s, the EPA has worked with other organizations to establish fuel economy standards which has resulted in cleaner, more fuel efficient vehicles. Purchasing these vehicles can save you money, reduce our country’s dependence on petroleum, and reduce air pollution from transportation. 

To find more ways to reduce your gas consumption, visit DOE’s Techniques for Drivers to Conserve Fuel webpage: :www.afdc.energy.gov/conserve/behavior_techniques.html

For more information on petroleum reduction in New Hampshire, visit DES’s Granite State Clean Cities Coalition web page: http://m1e.net/c?158049860-i7/xrz1JVHrvk%408502831-h/Bzrg/52ihek 

GREENWorks Ideas for a Cleaner Environment 
A publication of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Concord, NH (603) 271-3710 


Greening Clark Griswold’s Christmas Vacation - December 2012 

One our favorite things to do during the holiday season is to enjoy the many television and movie classics we have come to love. There are of course the animated classics for the kids, such as Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman. And movies such as It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Story, Miracle on 34th Street, or Home Alone.  One recent such movie that delivers some laugh out loud moments—National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation—got me thinking about how could I help Clark Griswold enjoy the holidays a little more.

I immediately thought that the easiest way to help Clark would be to save him some money on his electric bill by switching his holiday lights from the traditional kind to LED lights.  By making the switch he could save his Christmas bonus for that that swimming pool he was dreaming about. LED lights use less energy and last much longer than traditional lights, and who among us hasn’t been frustrated during the holidays by strings of burned-out or partially burned-out lights.

In the movie Clark Griswold boasted that he used "250 strands of lights, 100 individual bulbs per strand, for a grand total of 25,000 imported Italian twinkle lights." That is a lot of electricity, thus a lot of money. If we were to calculate his electric costs just for the lights, they would look something like this: 

Each “Italian twinkle light” uses 5 watts of power. 
Multiply 25,000 lights x 5 watts = 125,000 watts or 125 kW. 
The energy cost of the lights would be: 
$0.0787 per kW hour (PSNH) x 125 kW = $9.84 per hour. 
Leaving the lights on for 6 hours per day would cost roughly $59 per day for just the lights!!!

If Clark were to switch to LED lights, his cost per light would shrink from 5 watts to only 0.96 watts per bulb.  Based on the calculations above, his daily costs would drop from $59 per day to $11.33 per day, or just over 80% savings.  Now, that many LED lights might still overload your house but won’t cause the power company turn on their auxiliary nuclear generator. 

I realize that most of us won’t be stapling 25,000 lights to our house, but if you are looking for a way to save a little money this holiday season, and still want to out shine the other houses in the neighborhood, switch over to LED lights. You will be glad you did when you open your electric bill in January. 

GREENWorks 
Ideas for a Cleaner Environment 
A publication of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Concord, NH (603) 271-3710 


Restoring the “Bread Basket” of the Coast – 
By Thomas Burack, DES Commissioner

Tidal salt marshes are an important but underappreciated aspect of New Hampshire’s 18 miles of seacoast and 130 miles of estuarine shoreline. Salt marshes from Portsmouth to Seabrook have been damaged or destroyed by roads, by undersized culverts that don’t provide for adequate tidal exchange, by filling with rocks and dirt to create buildable land, and by being used as disposal locations for spoils (materials) from harbor dredging. Today there are about 6,000 acres of salt marsh in New Hampshire – 20% less than when the coastal region was first settled. For the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services—marking its 25th anniversary this year—this loss has inspired a successful collaborative effort to restore the critical role salt marshes play in our ecosystem.

Our salt marshes provide wildlife habitat, buffer water quality, and protect the coast line from coastal storms like nor’easters. Salt marshes are the “bread basket” of the coast supporting the fishing industry by providing food and shelter for finfish and shellfish, and slowing flood waters to avoid destruction of coastal properties.

Since the early 1990’s the DES Coastal Program and Wetlands Bureau staff have worked in partnership with local towns, other state and federal agencies, and non-profit organizations, as well as with diverse funding contributors to undo the damage to our salt marshes. These collaborations and partnerships across 30 different projects have resulted in the restoration of about 600 acres of salt marsh.  Salt marsh restoration projects, which aim to bring back natural conditions, involve activities such as removal of fill, creation of pools and tidal creeks, and removal of undersized culverts.  The tides are the lifelines for salt marshes; without them they choke to death.

As an example, at the Awcomin salt marsh, located just to the west of Rye Harbor, dredged materials from the harbor were disposed of within a 25 plus acre containment dike constructed directly on the salt marsh in 1941 and again in 1962.  Sea water could no longer enter the containment area and fresh water from rain and snow was trapped. Tidal exchange and fresh water runoff, together known as tidal flushing, are essential to a viable salt marsh ecosystem. The restoration process involved removing over 100,000 cubic yards of dredge spoils from the site in order to restore or replicate the original drainage pattern. Today the site has regained much of its vitality and is a great spot for watching shore birds.  The Town of Rye has been a leader in salt marsh restoration in New Hampshire.

The Little River salt marsh restoration in North Hampton faced severe tidal restriction due to an undersized roadway culvert and a channel through the barrier beach which was blocked with sand. Restoration project partners, including  the Town of North Hampton and local private citizens raised a total of $1.31 million to bring the project to fruition.  In 2000, a pair of 6 ft. high x 12 ft. wide concrete box culverts were installed in place of the existing 48 inch pipe that had been the only connection between the salt marsh and the sea since 1948.  The success of the project received national recognition in 2002 when President George W. Bush awarded the Little River Salt March Restoration Team the Coastal America Award. 

Healthy salt marshes are not only rich with life, they are also part of nature’s basic strategy of protecting our coastlines from a changing climate, including a greater frequency of strong storms and sea levels rise. Restored salt marshes, free of tidal restrictions, are more resilient and better equipped to help mitigate the potential damage from severe coastal storms, such as recently seen on the East Coast with Hurricane Sandy. We have certainly worked over the last 25 years to correct human impacts on salt marshes, and we will be looking to our salt marshes over the next 25 years to help us to adapt to future changes and the needs of our coastal areas. 


DES’s Innovative Approach to Assuring Safe Disposal of Hazardous Waste – By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner 12-04-12

It was only in 1976 that President Ford signed into law the federal Resource Conservation Recovery Act to establish comprehensive standards for safely managing hazardous wastes. In doing so, he cited the special threat of hazardous waste disposal, calling it "one of the highest priority environmental problems confronting the Nation." Some eleven years later when the Department of Environmental Services (DES) was formed in 1987, the state already had an inventory of nearly three hundred sites at which soil and groundwater had become contaminated by improper disposal of hazardous waste.

In 1981, the NH Office of Waste Management, a predecessor agency to DES, began implementing the hazardous waste program in New Hampshire. In the early years, New Hampshire, like all the other states, implemented its program using the “command and control” model by performing comprehensive inspections at a select few facilities, and taking enforcement actions to address violations, which often included significant financial penalties. Premised on the belief that the fear of severe penalties will drive businesses to compliance, this philosophy prevailed through the 1990’s, and was, in many respects, successful. While DES inspectors continued to find facilities out of compliance with the rules, the severity of violations diminished overall, and improper disposal of waste declined sharply. However, DES was able to perform inspections at only a very small fraction of regulated facilities and this approach did not result in sustained, consistent compliance.

In 2002, DES completed a state-wide hazardous waste compliance survey that starkly illustrated these weaknesses. Of 429 businesses surveyed, the average facility had a dismal 65% compliance rate. A dramatic change was needed to address the poor compliance rate and DES’s inability to reach out to a greater number of regulated businesses. 

Experience had shown that the most compliant facilities had well-trained staff and who frequently communicated with DES, asking questions and exploring concerns.  Conversely, staff at the least compliant facilities were poorly trained and often fearful of contacting DES.  A new approach would need to incorporate improved training opportunities and encourage frequent communication between our staff and the businesses that we regulate.  After careful consideration, DES proposed the Hazardous Waste Coordinator Certification (HWCC) Program.

Established by the NH Legislature in 2002, the HWCC Program requires that one person from each facility that generates 220 pounds (about 30 gallons) or more of hazardous waste in a month obtain certification and attend annual refresher training. The training is provided by DES staff who are experts on the hazardous waste rules.  The program first teaches the basics of hazardous waste compliance and then follows up annually with refresher training, providing advanced courses covering more in-depth hazardous waste issues. Training “from the source” assures that businesses keep up-to-date with changes and interpretations of regulations, and that at least one person at each facility will have significant knowledge of the requirements. Further, annual recertification ensures that staff turnover at facilities does not result in a loss of regulatory knowledge within the company and “back-sliding” to non-compliance. Of equal importance, the program dramatically reduces the anxiety
associated with interacting with regulators and results in vastly improved communications between DES and regulated facilities.

New Hampshire was the first state in the nation to take such a proactive approach to training and certifying its hazardous waste generators, but other states are now following our example. After almost ten years of the program’s operation, the overall level of knowledge and quality of waste management programs at NH facilities has never been higher.  The program currently regulates approximately 350 facilities and trains an average of 850 individuals per year.  While only NH’s larger generators are required to attend, participants include smaller facilities, hazardous waste transporters, and consultants. The success of the program is based upon the underlying belief that people want to do the right thing and manage their wastes properly, and that providing the right training will ensure their success.

Having educated and knowledgeable hazardous waste generators leads to good hazardous waste management practices and prevents damaging releases or spills to our air, water and land.  While traditional inspection and enforcement will always remain an important component of our compliance assurance efforts, we are proud of the leadership role we have taken in making the HWCC program the centerpiece of those efforts. As DES looks forward to the next 25 years, we are confident that the Hazardous Waste Coordinator Certification program will play a vital role in helping New Hampshire businesses protect our precious environment while they grow and prosper.  


You don’t have to be the Grinch to be Green this Holiday Season
11-29-12

We are in the middle of the holiday season. The time of year when we feast, feast, feast, feast and give big gifts and small gifts in wrapped boxes with ribbons and bows, and we generate tons and tons and tons of waste. The amount of household garbage in the United States can increase by 25 percent between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, an increase of an estimated million tons per day.

The holidays are a special time of year for young and for old, but you don’t need to stop the holidays from coming to reduce the impact on our environment. There are a number of ways that all of us can reduce the amount of trash we produce.

When searching for the perfect floofloover, tartookas, whohoopers or gardookas for Johnny or little Cindy Lou, look for the item with minimal packaging and/or made with recycled content.  Stay away from the boxes with the shriek squeaks or blinking lights that may be powered by a hidden battery that is full of mercury and circuitry that contains lead solder.

Say “no thank you” to that plastic shopping bag, for thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of them end up in landfills each year. Better yet, tell the store clerk you were on top of your game and brought reusable bags for all your holiday gift shopping. 

And no one remembers the wrapping paper, so use the newspaper or make your own.  It only stays on the present for 2.72 seconds once handed to an eager recipient. But at least, don’t be a bad banana with a greasy black peel - recycle the wrapping paper. And better yet, use a gift bag that can be reused next year.

The holidays are here and even the Grinch knows you can’t stop them from coming. They will come without ribbons.  They will come without tags. And they will come without  packages, boxes, or bags. But a green holiday can still be fun. Jus reduce, reuse and recycle a ton.

Authors Note: References taken from “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” written by Dr. Seuss, published in 1957. 

GREENWorks    Ideas for a Cleaner Environment 
A publication of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Concord, NH


What’s in Your Well? It’s Well Worth Testing
By Leslie O’Donnell - 11-19-12

What’s in the water you’re drinking?

That’s a question worth asking if you live in New Hampshire, where the geology of the region makes it a good possibility that you have naturally occurring arsenic in your bedrock well.

And it was the topic for the Lamprey River Watershed Association’s annual meeting, held Nov. 15 at the Raymond Baptist Church. Paul Susca, supervisor for Planning, Protection and Assistance at the Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES), was featured speaker at the spaghetti dinner.

His presentation, which included a video titled “In Small Doses” produced by Dartmouth College, was geared to education, not to scare anyone, but emphasized the importance of routine testing of wells, particularly for the presence of arsenic.

Susca said that 40 percent of the state’s residents are on private wells, and a show of hands showed the vast majority of those in attendance were also. He said the highest proportion of arsenic-contaminated wells is in the southeastern quarter of the state – home to Rockingham County. He noted that some towns in the area, among them Bow, Derry, Pelham, Salem and Windham, require testing of private wells, something that the state does not mandate. Hollis, Dublin and Tuftonboro have townwide voluntary well testing.

Susca also noted that 20 percent of bedrock wells in New Hampshire have arsenic concentrations over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) .010 parts per million standard for public water systems. That translates to 10 parts per billion. And Susca said 14 percent of the wells in Rockingham County would exceed that amount.

But even a well with arsenic levels at or below that level does not mean things are good. For example, at the 10 parts per billion level, the lifetime risk of bladder cancer from arsenic is one in 300. Susca said the safe goal for arsenic is zero.

But the news is not all bad. Current studies show arsenic ingestion comes by way of drinking water, rather than through skin absorption or inhalation. That means arsenic in well water can be treated at the kitchen tap – the “point of use” - rather than for the entire house, or the “point of entry.”

Arsenic is not the only thing that could be lurking unseen in a bedrock well. Susca said a significant number of wells in the state contain uranium and radon. And there are a host of other potential contaminants well testing can measure.

What’s going on at a neighbor’s well does not offer predictive power to what might be in your well water. Every well, Susca said, should be tested.

DES encourages annual basic testing, which he said costs about $30, and more extensive testing every three to five years.

While the testing itself is not expensive, treatment prices vary by contaminant and whether point of entry or point of use treatment is needed. But he suggested private well owners should look at that cost in light of what they spend on other utilities – for heating fuel and electricity, for example – and consider it part of the price of owning and maintaining a home.

Fact sheets about well contaminants in New Hampshire, and how to treat them, as well as information about well testing, are available at the DES website at  www.des.nh.gov  . 


Ensuring That Particle Pollution is Nothing to Choke Over
By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner -11-19-12

If you’ve ever been to a big city or hiked in the White Mountains you may have experienced “hazy” conditions that restricted your view. This haze is a result of particle pollution. Since man began to burn wood and other fuels, we have had particle pollution. Particle pollution also forms in the air when gasses condense into solid matter or when chemical reactions convert nitrogen- or sulfur-based pollutants into small particles. Since the formation of the Department of Environmental Services (DES) 25 years ago, progress has been made in protecting the public from the harmful effects of particle pollution and in preserving New Hampshire’s majestic views. In the last 25 years we have seen significant reductions in particle pollution due to increased efficiency and regulation of emissions from vehicles, power plants and industry. Despite these overall improvements, we continue to have unhealthy air quality days due to particle pollution.

Particulate pollution data has been collected in New Hampshire since 1967. Originally DES tracked all sizes of particles. As technology improved, scientists better understood the harmful effects particle pollution has on human health. The smaller the particle, the more deeply it can penetrate into our lungs. In 1997 the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recognized the need to monitor and control particle pollution that is 2.5 microns in diameter (PM2.5) due to health concerns. By comparison, the human hair is 70 microns in diameter, so these are very small particles. They can lodge deeply into the lungs and some of the smallest can cross into the blood stream and affect people with heart problems.

In 1999 DES began monitoring PM2.5 in six communities throughout the state using paper filters collected once in a 24-hour period. DES currently measures PM2.5 at eight air quality monitoring stations and has introduced advanced technology samplers at five of these stations. The new technology tracks PM2.5 concentrations each hour and provides real-time reporting to the state website (www.airquality.nh.gov). These new sampling devices have provided DES with a tool that helps us better understand how local weather patterns can trap local PM2.5 emissions. During cold and calm winter nights, particle pollution can get trapped in valley areas, causing overnight build-ups that reach unhealthy levels.

One of DES’ latest and most exciting projects has been mobile monitoring, which involves measuring PM2.5 from a moving vehicle. Thanks to special one-time EPA project funding, DES now has sampling equipment that can be used to collect short-term PM2.5 samples during periods when PM2.5 is predicted to rise overnight. This work has greatly helped DES understand the PM2.5 exposure risks in communities that don’t have permanent air monitoring stations.

DES focuses on PM2.5 in wintertime when residential heating, including wood stoves, adds to the problem along with other local sources. However, elevated PM2.5 concentrations can occur anytime of year when winds blow the pollutants into the state from other areas. Such pollutants can originate in cities, industrial areas, and even from forest fires located hundreds to thousands of miles away.

New Hampshire has met the PM2.5 health standard since it was first set in 1997. There are periods when PM2.5 concentration levels are forecasted to reach unhealthy levels for sensitive groups, and DES issues air quality alerts when such events are expected. The PM2.5 health standard is also currently being reviewed by EPA to determine if it provides enough protection to human health or if it should be more protective.

Fortunately, recent emission reduction programs for cars, trucks, heating devices, power plants, and industry have helped reduce PM2.5 and other pollutants. These measures are also helping the state meet its responsibilities under the federal Regional Haze Rule of 1999 which has a long-term goal of returning 156 national parks and wilderness areas (two in New Hampshire) to natural visibility conditions. 

As we move forward, DES will strive to deepen its understanding of the sources and problem areas for PM2.5 pollution and will seek corrective measures. DES will continue to work with federal and other state agencies to reduce air pollution transport. Locally we will continue to raise awareness and encourage residents and businesses to take actions to reduce particle pollution. With all of us working together, our residents and visitors can enjoy year-round healthy air to breathe and crystal clear views of New Hampshire’s scenic beauty.


New Hampshire’s Dams – The Secret to Our Lakes
By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner 11-14-12

Since 1987, when the National Weather Service has predicted severe rain events to affect New Hampshire, a small, well-prepared crew at the state’s Department of Environmental Services has stood ready to prevent flooding from whatever storm Mother Nature sends our way. The DES Dam Bureau, which joined DES when the agency was created by the legislature in 1987, is responsible for the safety of the more than 2,600 dams in the state, including the year-round maintenance and repair of all 274 state-owned dams. The Dam Bureau ensures that the dams are structurally sound and functioning as designed, so that when severe storms, such as Hurricane Sandy, bring high volumes of water—and they do—the staff can confidently release the right amounts of water from the state-owned dams to reduce flooding. It’s a science and an art that the Dam Bureau has devoted itself to, especially in the last 8 years or so as New Hampshire has experienced three one-hundred year floods and two hurricanes. 

State-owned dams impound the largest and most important recreational lakes in the state, including Winnipesaukee, Squam, Winnisquam, Newfound, Sunapee and Ossipee.  These lakes provide a myriad of recreational opportunities for boaters, swimmers, anglers, and others, and are home to a rich array of waterfowl, wildlife, fish and other aquatic species. The dams on these large lakes also help to control the volume of water flowing into some of the major rivers of the state, which in turn affect industries and recreation downstream.  And this means that water levels must be constantly monitored, even during good weather, and frequent adjustments made by the dam operators to ensure that appropriate levels are maintained.

Many of the state’s dams, particularly those on the large lakes, were constructed in the mid-1800s to provide waterpower to fuel the great Industrial Revolution-era mills of New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Most of the dams that the state owns are well over 100 years old. Because of their age, they require continued attention to maintain them in a safe condition. Twenty-nine of the state-owned dams are “high hazard,” meaning that their failure would cause loss of life downstream, and 53 are “significant hazard” dams, which would cause significant property damage downstream if they failed.  More than 4,000 homes, 130 state road crossings and 800 town road crossings would be destroyed or damaged were all of these state-owned dams to fail. 

According to the New Hampshire Lake Association’s Report on the Economic Value of New Hampshire’s Surface Waters, New Hampshire’s lakes provide up to $1.5 billion annually of economic benefit to the state, and waterfront property owners pay nearly a quarter-billion dollars annually in property taxes. Since the majority of New Hampshire’s surface waters are impounded by state-owned dams, the upkeep of these dams is vitally important, not only to protect public safety and the environment, but also to maintain the large economic benefits that they provide.  In 1996, a privately-owned, significant hazard dam in Alton failed. One person died, and approximately $8 million worth of property damage occurred when the Rte. 140 road crossing downstream was destroyed. The flooding seven years ago in Alstead also dramatically illustrated the destructive force of a sudden release of stored water, which killed 5 people and caused some $35 million of damage downstream. Using the costs of these tragedies as a yardstick, it is clear that many thousands of lives and hundreds of millions of dollars of property are at risk downstream of state-owned and maintained dams.

To keep all of these dams safe, the Dam Bureau must conduct daily maintenance, including keeping the areas around the dams continually mowed to prevent the growth of woody vegetation whose roots could threaten the safety of the dams. Every day, the Dam Bureau staff performs a unique balancing act of managing water releases from the state-owned dams so as not to cause property damage on the lakes and downstream, while also ensuring appropriate lake levels to support wildlife, boating and all of the many ways in which we love to enjoy our lakes.

As DES recognizes our 25th Anniversary this year, we salute the DES Dam Bureau for the critical role they play in reducing flooding risks during major storm events, and daily in safely maintaining our dams to support economic activity and our wonderful quality of life – proof positive that in New Hampshire a healthy environment and a strong economy are positively linked.


The End of the Unlined Landfill
By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner 11-9-12

For many of us, taking out the trash is not significantly different today than it was 25 years ago, other than we are a little better about recycling. But, the way that our cities and towns manage our garbage is nothing like it once was. For decades prior to the creation of the Department of Environmental Services in 1987, New Hampshire’s municipal solid waste was largely managed using crude methods that put our land, air, water and health at risk. In most towns, residents brought their trash to the “town dump,” where it was burned in the open or in low-tech incinerators, or dumped on the land directly. “Burning day” at the dump filled the air with noxious odors and smoke containing hazardous chemicals and particulates that traveled far and wide, and were a significant contributor to air pollution in our state. Partially burned and unburned waste was often left uncovered, inviting vermin and posing a risk of disease transmission.

By the mid-1980s, the practice of open burning had ceased, and waste at town dumps was generally covered with soil at the end of each day. This represented a significant improvement over previous practices. Also, commercial waste-to-energy incinerators and double-lined secure solid waste landfills were being sited and constructed in the state. However, the town dumps located in many New Hampshire towns remained in wide use.

These so-called “sanitary landfills” were not lined, so there was no way to prevent rain water that came in contact with the waste, which sometimes included hazardous waste, from leaching into the ground and contaminating groundwater. Out of over 120 unlined municipal landfills, there were 108 still operating in 1987, each with varying degrees of groundwater contamination. In some cases, this contamination threatened or impacted public and private drinking water supplies, and it became clear that prompt action was needed. 

State and federal regulations imposed stringent landfill operating requirements, and state groundwater protection laws encouraged many New Hampshire towns to cease operating their unlined landfills by 1991. However, the requirement to properly close these facilities posed a significant financial burden on our municipalities. Proper closure usually required design and construction of an engineered soil or synthetic cap, proper drainage, and long-term groundwater monitoring.

To address this problem, the NH Legislature enacted the Unlined Municipal Landfill Closure Grant Program in 1994. Under this program administered by DES, towns that agreed to properly close their unlined landfills became eligible for a 20 percent state matching grant. The program was tremendously popular and successful. Since its inception, the program has provided over $30 million to help 116 towns to properly close 107 landfills. The program, in concert with responsible decisions and actions by our local governments, resulted in the investment of $165 million statewide to address this critical environmental challenge. 

DES is pleased to announce that the Farmington landfill, the last unlined, municipal solid waste landfill in New Hampshire, has ceased operations this year and completed closure. The closure included proper grading, drainage improvements, and a low-permeability engineered soil cap that is already growing green grass! So as we celebrate our 25th anniversary year, we also celebrate the news that all unlined municipal solid waste landfills have been successfully closed and capped. Where necessary, groundwater quality is being monitored over the long term at these facilities to ensure that, as expected, proper closure results in steady improvements in groundwater quality. 

Even as we celebrate this important milestone, we know that we face many more challenges ahead in the arena of solid waste management. With each of us generating more than four pounds of solid waste every day, we will need to find new and better waste management solutions. In 1991, the NH Legislature expressed its support for integrated solid waste solutions and established a hierarchy of waste management methods, in order of preference:

1) source reduction;
2) recycling and reuse;
3) composting;
4) waste-to-energy technologies;
5) incineration without resource recovery;
6) land-filling.

In total, New Hampshire generates about 1.3 million tons of solid waste each year. Management of this waste is currently divided roughly equally among waste-to-energy incineration, secure land-filling and recycling. The first two of these are effective but costly management options, with tipping fees ranging from $60 to $100 per ton. Source reduction, recycling and composting, where
feasible, are generally much more cost-effective. As we embark on the next 25 years, DES and its partners look forward to crafting more economical and environmentally sustainable solutions and shifting that balance increasingly towards source reduction, reuse, recycling and composting.


New Hampshire’s Rivers – What a Difference a Generation Makes
By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner - 10-25-12

Within a single generation we have seen rivers go from catching fire to running clear and clean. Many of us can still remember in 1969 watching TV broadcasts of the Cuyahoga River in Ohio on fire. The toxic pollution that ignited in that river wasn’t unique to the Cuyahoga – rivers across the nation were heavily polluted, including many right here in New Hampshire. But that image of a river afire was seared into our collective conscience and helped to change the way our nation thinks about our waterways and the environment in general. In 1972 Congress enacted the Clean Water Act, and the clean-up of rivers across the country commenced. By the time the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services was formed in 1987, the NH Water Supply and Pollution Control Commission (one of DES’s predecessor agencies) had already worked with many communities and industries to implement river water quality improvements including more effective wastewater treatment technologies. 

Additionally, the New Hampshire legislature, recognizing that our rivers are significant economic and aesthetic assets, created the New Hampshire Rivers Management and Protection Program (Rivers Program) in 1988, just one year after the formation of DES.  Like DES this year, the Rivers Program will celebrate its 25th Anniversary next year. A distinctive characteristic of the Rivers Program is the partnership created between and among state government, local citizens and their towns through the formation of a local advisory committee (LAC) for each designated river.  Across the state, there are approximately 200 people who volunteer their time and expertise to an LAC. These local groups have worked to successfully designate 18 rivers or river segments into the Rivers Program.  These designated rivers meander through more than half of New Hampshire’s cities and towns and total approximately 1,000 river miles.

The LACs develop and implement a local river corridor management plan and advise local, state and federal agencies of activities that may affect the water quality or flow of the designated river. For example, the Exeter River LAC worked to replace culverts in Sandown which were undersized and not capable of adequately passing flood waters. With these replacements, the need for road repairs will decline and the passage of fish and other aquatic species will improve.

While we have made real progress cleaning up our rivers and the water quality is generally good, they continue to be polluted by wastewater discharges, failed septic systems, rain and snow that carry airborne pollution, and agricultural and urban stormwater discharges containing bacteria, road salt, oils and other pollutants. Recognizing the need to document river water quality and wanting to engage interested and concerned individuals and groups, DES established the Volunteer River Assessment Program (VRAP) in 1998.  Since DES has limited staff available to conduct water quality monitoring, it is the data collected by these volunteers and other professionals that DES uses to make informed decisions to correct water quality problems. VRAP now supports 28 volunteer groups and 200 volunteers who monitor 250 stations on numerous rivers throughout the state.

But managing rivers is not just about water quality; understanding the water quantity characteristics of our rivers is equally important. River flows are altered by human activities such as dam operation, watershed development, water withdrawals and wastewater discharges. Another component of the Rivers Program is the Instream Flow Program, whose goal is to ensure that the water within our rivers will support human and natural uses. Currently, the Instream Flow Program is working on pilot projects on the Lamprey and Souhegan Rivers to determine how to best meet the needs of water users and not harm the river ecosystems.

Given our historic relationship with our rivers, we will continue to expect our rivers to sustain our lives by providing us with safe drinking water, boating and fishing opportunities, flood protection, and hydroelectric power, while ensuring the health of plant and animal life. We must keep our rivers clean and healthy in order to sustain our economy and quality of life. As DES marks its 25th Anniversary, we look forward to another 25 years of working with volunteers, organizations and communities from across the state to make sure that rivers on fire become an ever-more-distant memory, and that our future memories of our rivers are of clean, clear waters for all to enjoy. 


What Kind of Greeting Are You Sending?  10-18-12

Remember the days when you went searching for the perfect greeting card to give to a special person for a special occasion? Your choices were simple: a paper card that was serious or funny with words and/or pictures. The card was kept for sentimental reasons or hopefully recycled rather than thrown in the trash. Now, thanks to technology, we have the choice of talking, singing, even dancing musical greeting cards! These cards may be kept longer than a plain old paper card, but eventually the batteries wear out and the fun fades away. 

Then what do you do with the card? Throw it out? Try to recycle it? Have you ever actually taken one of those cards apart to see what they contain? Whoa! Depending on the card, there can be a number of components inside. Some of the components that make those cards sing and dance include the following.

Batteries – There may be up to three batteries per card, which may or may not contain mercury. The mercury batteries contain as much as 5mg of mercury – more mercury than in a compact fluorescent light bulb! Mercury is harmful to human health and is highly toxic to wildlife. Most of the mercury released to the atmosphere comes from the burning of mercury-containing garbage—like greeting cards with mercury batteries--and the burning of coal, oil, and natural gas to provide energy.

Speakers – The card has one to two speakers that contain combinations of metals, plastic and magnets. (They DO make good refrigerator magnets, however!) 

Circuit boards – These boards are comprised of resistors, capacitors, lead solder, plastics and metals. 

LED lights and the wires that go to them – These are what ensure the disco ball lights up! 

Unidentifiable pieces of plastic – This enables a paper hamster to dance. 

As you can see, these electronic cards contain a whole lot more than just a pleasant greeting, they could contain hazardous waste. If you receive one of these cards and discover mercury containing batteries (look for a Hg symbol on the battery), please contact your local transfer station for proper disposal. The paper can be recycled, but the rest, unfortunately, must go in the trash – what a waste!

The next time you need a card for that special someone, think about the environmental impact. Maybe the person receiving the greeting would enjoy a real live song or dance instead of all that waste to manage! For more information on the effects of mercury on the environment, please see www.des.nh.gov . 

GREENWorks 
Ideas for a Cleaner Environment 

A publication of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Concord, NH (603) 271-3710 


DES’s Management of Septic Systems Has Protected Public Health and Public Waters for Over 25 Years - By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner - 10-15-25

Now celebrating our 25th year of serving New Hampshire’s citizens and environment, we at the Department of Environmental Services raise a glass of clean drinking water to … septic systems.  Yes, septic systems!  When you flush a toilet, wash your hands, take a shower, or run a load of laundry, all that dirty water has to go somewhere.  For many of us living in the largely rural state of New Hampshire, our wastewater ends up most often is what we commonly call a septic system – a buried tank and an underground disposal area that allows the dirty water to seep into the ground where bacteria are broken down.

Over the years, we’ve learned the hard way that when a septic system fails or gets clogged, the untreated wastewater can result in widespread contamination of lakes and rivers, as well as of the waters under the ground that are tapped by public and private wells as the source of our drinking water.  Because the harmful bacteria, viruses and toxic chemicals in wastewater are usually odorless and invisible, people and animals may unknowingly swim in or drink contaminated water, sometimes with very unfortunate results: they may develop infections, gastrointestinal illnesses, or deadly diseases like cholera and hepatitis.  Even a single failed septic system can cause serious health problems.

To make matters worse, excess nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen, in wastewater discharges cause plant and algae growth in lakes, ponds and tidal waters, which in turn consumes the oxygen that’s dissolved in the water, thereby creating an environment in which fish can’t survive.  Studies completed by DES on our lakes show that discharges from septic systems typically contribute 16 - 20 percent of the total phosphorus load in these water bodies.

Fortunately, here in New Hampshire our legislature has long recognized the vital role that septic systems play in keeping wastewater from seeping onto our properties, or into our drinking water or favorite lakes, ponds, rivers and streams.  Dating back to the 1960s, the Water Supply and Pollution Control Commission, one of DES’s predecessor state agencies, was charged with developing a statewide program to ensure the safe treatment of wastewater in septic systems.  This effort was complemented by federal laws enacted by Congress in the 1970s to address the larger challenges of water pollution and ensuring clean, safe drinking water.

New Hampshire first required septic system installers and designers to be licensed in 1980. Design and installation methods, as well as treatment and disposal technologies have improved immensely over the past 25 years. In the earlier days of DES, the “wet sneaker test” was commonly used to determine if soils were adequate for a septic system location.  Today, new soil analysis technologies enable us to more accurately determine the ability of the soil to treat the effluent, thus improving one of the most vital aspects of septic system design.

While laws can define basic requirements and design elements, the homeowner is ultimately responsible for a properly functioning and healthy septic system. This means having the system inspected and pumped out by a licensed professional at least every two to three years; keeping grease, toxic substances and other inappropriate wastes or additives out of the system; conserving water, since too much water can overload a system; and not allowing heavy vehicles, firewood, sheds, trees or shrubs to be sited over the tank, distribution box or leach field.  A well-maintained septic system can function properly for 25-50 years.  Even well maintained septic systems can contribute nutrients to nearby surface waters, but there is hope that emerging technologies will help to cost-effectively reduce this risk over time.

Gone are the days of cesspools, open trenches and pipes carrying human wastes and effluent directly into nearby lakes and rivers.  In the 25 years that the Department of Environmental Services has served the residents of New Hampshire, we have been proud to work with homeowners, businesses and municipalities to ensure that the hundreds of thousands of septic systems in the state are providing the necessary and vital protection of our drinking water, lakes, rivers, tidal waters and public health.  DES’s work in this arena will never be done.  Rather, constant vigilance is necessary to protect the clean water that is essential to New Hampshire’s economy, shoreland property values, recreation and wildlife habitat, and the health of our residents and visitors.

Author’s Note: In recognition of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ 25th Anniversary, over the course of the year, I am highlighting 25 agency activities, programs, projects and accomplishments of the past 25 years. This article, the 17th in the series, discusses the importance of properly designed, installed and maintained septic systems to public health and the environment.  All of the editorials in the series are available at http://m1e.net/c?158049860-3LRzRborWnw06%407971861-MrqCd6SerdreQ


Grants Available for Keeping New Hampshire Waters Clean - 10-8-12

Concord, NH — New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is now accepting proposals for the 2013 Watershed Assistance Grants to support local initiatives to restore impaired waters or protect high quality waters. The application deadline is November 21, 2012.

These grants are offered to municipalities, non-profit organizations, state agencies, regional planning commission, and county conservation districts. Funds can be used to develop and implement approved watershed plans that address specific water pollution problems. Water quality improvement must be measured. Solutions can include a wide range of activities, such as installing rain gardens, green roofs, and porous pavement, stabilizing stream banks, and implementing stormwater utilities.

Funds for Watershed Assistance Grants are appropriated through the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under Section 319 of the Clean Water Act. Approximately $400,000 will be available for grants this year. DES awards and administers the grants to local New Hampshire organizations.

DES will assist applicants in developing comprehensive, outcome-based project proposals. Please contact Eric Williams at (603) 271-2358, eric.williams@des.nh.gov , or Jeff Marcoux at (603) 271-8862, jeffrey.marcoux@des.nh.gov ,for assistance and to address eligibility before completing a proposal.

For more information and a copy of the proposal form, please log-on to http://m1e.net/c?158049860-gL2/NIsfG2.9Q%407948291-cRDR.uv1bCeOk


Is Your Septic Tank Full of It? - 9-26-12

It is hard to believe that fall is here, the season where homeowners must rush to finish all of those outdoor projects before the snow flies and ground freezes. Fall is the perfect time to remember what lies below the surface, your septic system! If you don’t remember when you last had your septic tank pumped, then chances are you’re overdue. You don’t want to wait until you have a problem and there is two feet of snow and ice to dig through to find your septic tank cover. 

For most homeowners, the septic system is out of sight, out of mind. But it is important for us to know the basics. Your septic system is a complex system designed to treat waste water from your home before it is discharged into the ground. This system is composed of two parts: 1) a tank designed to remove solids, and 2) a leaching field that further treats the water before it becomes part of the groundwater again. Septic tanks should be inspected annually and pumped every two to three years, to help ensure proper operation of the system.

Failure of the system can occur if it is not properly maintained, and cause quite a mess inside and outside of your home. This failure can also result in the release of pollution such as nutrients, chemicals and bacteria into the ground water or surface water. This should be a concern to you, especially if you rely on well water for your drinking water supply or live near a waterbody such as a stream, river, lake or wetland. 

Be aware that what you put down the drain or toilet has an impact on maintenance costs and the overall life of the system. Follow these suggestions for best results: 

- Keep grease and garbage out of your drains, and avoid garbage disposal systems. The leftovers cause tanks to fill more quickly and slow the digestion process. 

- Conserve water by fixing leaks, installing water efficient appliances and fixtures, and not letting water run unnecessarily. This will minimize the volume of water your system must treat and extend the life of your system. 

- Only flush biodegradable wastes down the toilet. Non-biodegradable products like used cigarettes, clay based cat litter, and feminine hygiene products will clog the system. 

- Avoid putting hazardous materials down the drain. Paints, varnishes, chlorinated water, disinfectants, and expired prescription medications can contaminate the groundwater, clog the system, and be deadly to the essential working bacteria. 

Other more visible events can occur due to lack of maintenance or misuse, such as a “system back up,” which results in raw sewage in your home or a saturated leach field where waste water appears at the ground surface. The costs from these situations can be far more expensive than the cost of regular maintenance like routine pumping of your septic system. 

To learn more about your septic system, the Department of Environmental Service has a free video about septic systems on its web site at DES Septic System Video.

GREENWorks  Ideas for a Cleaner Environment 
A publication of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Concord, NH (603) 271-3710 


DES Announces Official Opening of Air Monitoring Station at Moose Hill School, Londonderry 9-25-12

LONDONDERRY, N.H. – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) today hosted a ribbon cutting and site tour of the Londonderry Air Monitoring Station. This state-of-the-art facility was built using energy efficient siting, design and lighting.

The air monitoring station at the Moose Hill School in Londonderry is considered DES’ flagship air pollution monitoring station and the first to incorporate solar energy to power monitoring equipment. This station is part of a National Core multi-pollutant air monitoring network designed to provide data at lower detection limits, as well as enhanced forecasting and reporting of air quality conditions to the public. DES worked closely with EPA to carefully select this site for its central proximity to the highly populated, southeastern suburbs of New Hampshire. This site lies in the air pollution transport corridor that crosses the southern portion of the state. 

Pollutants being monitored at this site include ozone, small particle pollution, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide, and carbon monoxide.  Meteorological conditions are also being recorded, including outside temperature, wind speed, wind direction, rainfall, barometric pressure, and relative humidity. 

Collecting air pollution data is required by the Federal Clean Air Act.  The state has been tracking air pollution through its network of air monitoring stations since the 1960s.  DES and other organizations use air monitoring data to determine the status of New Hampshire’s air pollution levels, predict air pollution episodes, enact protective measures and warnings, and protect public health and the natural environment. 

 “Today, DES operates a technologically advanced network of air pollution monitoring stations that operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year in order to provide us with vital real time data on the quality of our air,” said DES Commissioner Tom Burack. “Maintaining good air quality protects New Hampshire’s environment and the public’s health, which are inextricably linked to our state’s economic well being.”

For more information on this event, please contact Jim Martin at DES (603) 271-3710 James.Martin@des.nh.gov. For more information about air quality in New Hampshire, call the Air Quality Information Line at (603) 935-SMOG or visit www.airquality.nh.gov.


Pollution Prevention in the Granite State - By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner 9-18-12

In recognition of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ 25th Anniversary, over the course of the year, I will highlight 25 agency activities, programs, projects and accomplishments of the past 25 years. This article, the 16th in the series, relates to the New Hampshire Pollution Prevention Program at DES. 

Over the past 25 years, there is one thing that we have learned for certain — businesses can invest in pollution prevention processes and be more profitable at the same time. Eliminating or reducing waste at the source saves businesses money by reducing their regulatory burden and their solid and hazardous waste management costs.

The New Hampshire Pollution Prevention Program (NHPPP) was established in 1991 to help businesses comply with regulations, prevent pollution and save money and resources. Since then, the program has provided free, confidential assistance to businesses, municipalities and organizations throughout the state. Starting from the ground up, the program faced many obstacles, not the least of which was distinguishing its confidential consulting service from the department’s inspection and regulatory programs. However, with time and patience, the NHPPP staff won the trust of cautious businesses through one-on-one site visits and useful reports that demonstrated how they could prevent pollution and achieve cost savings all at once.

Along with site visits, NHPPP offers pollution prevention workshops, answers requests for information from both businesses and individuals, and has developed award-winning guidance documents that assist companies in reducing their wastes. Over the years, the NHPPP has worked on projects with many different sectors of the community such as: marinas, hospitals, dental offices, the automobile, ski and hospitality industries, municipalities, and schools. Each project focuses on issues specific to those industries and offers suggestions to reduce energy use, water consumption, and waste.

Here’s an example of how NHPPP works with companies to find solutions: A company that manufactures rubber-backed steel washers used a manufacturing process that flushed wastewater containing high levels of copper to the sewer. These levels were higher than allowed by their town’s wastewater treatment facility. The company was puzzled. Where was the copper coming from? They manufactured the washers from steel. Treatment solutions had been suggested that would cost the company approximately $40,000-$60,000. This approach would remove the copper from the wastewater, but still create hazardous waste (copper) which would involve additional management and cost. 

The NHPPP was asked to conduct a site visit to look at the company’s manufacturing process from start to finish. NHPPP found that the source of the copper was coming from a wire brush used to clean a mold release agent from clamshell-like molds used in the process of adhering the rubber to the washer. This cleaning process took place in a vat of sodium hydroxide. As it turned out, the mold cleaning brushes had brass bristles and the brushes were left hanging in the hot acid bath. Little by little, the sodium hydroxide was leaching the copper out of the brass bristles. To correct the problem the company simply needed to switch to a stainless steel brush! For the price of a stainless steel brush and a phone call, this company eliminated the copper pollution at the source.

To reach more businesses, the NHPPP has partnered with the University of New Hampshire Chemical Engineering Department to establish a successful, long lasting internship program. Since 1993, over 120 UNH students have worked with 70 New Hampshire companies on pollution prevention projects with one common goal: to reduce or eliminate waste and save money. To date, companies have reported combined cost savings of over $5 million. The benefits for both parties are great: the student acquires real-world experience, and the company has the opportunity to save money while promoting a safe and environmentally-sustainable work environment. 

To recognize the many New Hampshire businesses that have gone above and beyond to implement projects that exceed regulatory requirements and eliminate waste at the source, the Governor’s Award for Pollution Prevention was established in 1993. Over the years, dozens of companies have been recognized, but what is most meaningful is that these companies have contributed to a cleaner environment for New Hampshire and have saved millions of dollars.

Throughout the years, the NHPPP has received numerous awards and recognition from the US Environmental Protection Agency for its efforts to prevent pollution and promote sustainability among businesses in the state of New Hampshire. The NHPPP program is ongoing today with a small group of staff that embody the DES philosophy that a strong New Hampshire economy and healthy environment have and will always go hand-in-hand.


NH Pollution Prevention Program Celebrates Pollution Prevention Week, September 17-23

Concord, NH - A celebration of Pollution Prevention (P2) Week is happening the third week of September from the 17 to 23, 2012. P2 Week is a nationally recognized event when businesses, government, environmental groups and citizens can join forces for a common cause.

The 2012 P2 Week theme is "Safer Chemicals for a Safer World." Pollution prevention is recognized as an effective tool for protecting the environment and the economy since it eliminates pollution at the source before it is generated.

"Safer Chemicals for a Safer World" embodies a national effort to move toward safer alternatives and reduce chemicals of concern. This is to ensure the safety and health of workers, communities and the environment.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Pollution Prevention Program works with businesses, organizations and individuals throughout the year to help them reduce or eliminate hazardous waste and toxic emissions by providing information on safer chemical alternatives. P2 Week is a great opportunity to bring attention to those safer alternatives and the benefits to both human health and the environment. During P2 Week, follow DES on twitter at twitter.com/NHDES for daily tweets about choosing "Safer Chemicals for a Safer World." For more information about the NH Pollution Prevention Program, go to www.des.nh.gov and under the A to Z list search for "Pollution Prevention."


Drawdown of Lakes and Ponds Schedule
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) announced today that the annual fall drawdown of the lakes and ponds controlled by dams owned by DES will be initiated according to the  Drawdown of Lakes and Ponds schedule found on the DES website.


25-Plus Years of Cleaning Up Our Coast - By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner 9-11-12

In recognition of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ 25th Anniversary, over the course of the year, I will highlight 25 agency activities, programs, projects and accomplishments of the past 25 years. This article, the 15th in the series, discusses the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day. 

Even though New Hampshire has the shortest coastline in New England, only 18 miles, our beaches aren’t immune from becoming garbage dumps for marine debris. And with nearly 230 additional shoreline miles of bays, harbors, tidal rivers and estuaries, there’s even more territory for wastes to be washed up in New Hampshire. But, rather than just complaining or blaming others for this trash, New Hampshire has a proud, 25-year tradition of volunteer efforts to clean up our beaches and shoreline. 

Each September since 1986, a year before DES was formed, New Hampshire volunteers come together as part of a worldwide event called International Coastal Cleanup Day. It’s the largest volunteer one-day event of its kind in which people from all over the world clean beaches on the same day. It was started by the Ocean Conservancy, whose mission is to keep oceans healthy.  Last year in New Hampshire alone, 1,110 volunteers collected 8,037 pounds of debris, which totaled approximately 44,000 pieces.

This year’s Coastal Cleanup on September 15 will be conducted at more than 25 sites along the New Hampshire coast and Great Bay. Volunteers will help clean local beaches and will record their findings on data cards to help study trends in marine pollution. The most common items found from year to year include cigarette butts, food wrappers and containers, caps and lids, rope, and plastic bags. All of these items can kill marine life and cause a major eyesore for folks trying to enjoy the beach. No one wants to walk, swim or play near marine debris! 

Cleanups not only keep our coasts beautiful, they also help protect public health by removing potentially dangerous trash. Fishing lines, hooks and syringes are some of the dangerous debris that has turned up in New Hampshire. Fishing lines and nets, ropes and other trash can wrap around fins, flippers and limbs of birds, whales, seals, and other animals, affecting their ability to eat, move and care for their young. 

The Coastal Program, prior to joining DES in 2004, was originally part of the Office of State Planning, and helped to coordinate the first ever New Hampshire Coastal Cleanup and continued to coordinate and recruit volunteers until 2004. Since 2005, the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, based out of Portsmouth, has been awarded a federal grant passed through the DES Coastal Program to coordinate the International Coastal Cleanup Day in New Hampshire, with some additional sponsors.    The Blue Ocean Society works throughout the year to educate the public about the problems of marine debris and the importance of proper trash disposal. 

The Blue Ocean Society has been a tremendous partner to DES in conducting marine debris removal and education activities, including coordinating the annual International Coastal Cleanup Day, Adopt-A-Beach programs, and public education and outreach in schools, aboard whale watches, and in other public venues. 

Most importantly DES and Blue Ocean Society could not do this work without volunteers. The heart of the cleanup is the people who care about our beaches. It’s a time when individuals, families, and small and large groups come together to preserve part of what makes New Hampshire great. These efforts have certainly paid off – New Hampshire was named second in the nation for cleanest coastal beaches in 2011 by The Natural Resources Defense Council. So this weekend, mark it on your calendar to spend a few hours on the beach helping to keep New Hampshire’s beaches and shoreline the envy of the nation.


Act Now to Protect Your Groundwater
Protect Your Groundwater Day is September 11

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) urges every New Hampshire resident and visitor to protect groundwater—the largest source of drinking water in the state, the United States and the world. A good time to start is Protect Your Groundwater Day, September 11. 

“Every person can play a role in protecting groundwater—from keeping it clean to using water wisely,” said Sarah Pillsbury, administrator of the Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau at DES. “Each of us is responsible for protecting our shared groundwater resources. For many people, this means a small adjustment in their daily activities, such as fixing leaks and storing household chemicals so they can’t spill onto the ground.”

What are some other specific actions New Hampshire residents can take?

When it comes to hazardous household substances:
•      Store them properly in sealed containers in a secure place.
•   Use them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.
•  Dispose of them safely. 
•    Learn about household hazardous waste collections at www.des.nh.gov; in the A to Z List, click on “Household Hazardous Waste.”

To conserve water:
•      Modify your water use by taking shorter showers, watering your lawn in the morning or washing only full loads of laundry.
•     Install a water-saving device, such as a low-flow toilet or water-efficient appliance.
•      For more information about conserving water, visit www.des.nh.gov; in the A to Z List, click on “Water Conservation.”

If you own a water well:
•     Move possible contamination sources a safe distance from the wellhead.
•      Inspect and properly maintain your septic system.
•     Have your water well system inspected.
•      Properly decommission any abandoned wells on your property with the help of a professional.

Although a few months ago, it appeared that New Hampshire was at the onset of drought, current conditions are generally within normal ranges. Groundwater levels and other drought indicators can be checked at www.des.nh.gov; search for “drought conditions.” 

Protect Your Groundwater Day was started by the National Ground Water Association (NGWA).  Learn other ways to protect groundwater by visiting the  NGWA Protect Your Groundwater Day web page

For more information about groundwater protection in New Hampshire, visit www.des.nh.gov; in the A to Z List, click on “Groundwater Protection.” And, for information about testing your private well, visit www.des.nh.gov; in the A to Z List, click on “Private Well Testing.”


Tackling Phosphorus in our Lakes. Great progress has been made in 25 years. - By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner - 8-29-12

In recognition of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ 25th Anniversary, over the course of the year, I will highlight 25 agency activities, programs, projects and accomplishments of the past 25 years. This article, the 13th in the series, discusses the work done to address phosphorus pollution in our lakes.

In the 1970s, Kezar Lake in Sutton looked more like pea soup than lake water. While it has since been rectified, the lake’s high growth of algae was a result of one of New London’s wastewater treatment facilities discharging sewage to a tributary of the lake, introducing much more phosphorus into the lake than it could handle. Across New Hampshire in the 1970s, prior to the federal Clean Water Act and State oversight, algal blooms frequently occurred from phosphorus overload, rendering many of our lakes and ponds polluted and scum-filled.

The 1970s, however, was also a decade of great advancement in lake science. This combination of degradation of public water resources and improved scientific knowledge was the catalyst for change regarding how we manage and regulate our lakes. For example, in the 1980s, New Hampshire changed the law to prevent direct discharges of sewage to lakes, ending a common practice of raw waste disposal that seems horrific to us now.

When, in 1987, the Water Resources Council and the Water Supply and Pollution Control Commission came under the single administration of DES, state scientists and regulators were better able to affect change to prevent pollution from entering our precious water bodies. In addition, DES biologists were assisted in their lake monitoring by the fledgling Volunteer Lake Assessment Program--a small group of enthusiastic volunteers representing a handful of participating lakes. 

Today, with over 180 lakes now participating, VLAP is one of DES’s longest running successful programs. The quality-controlled data collected by this important group of volunteers helps DES assess the health of our lakes and ponds. In addition to phosphorus, the volunteers monitor for clarity, pH, chloride, chlorophyll-a, bacteria and other parameters. 

In 1991, the State Legislature enacted the original Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act, which included requirements for vegetated buffers and setbacks, and limitations for buildings and fertilizer (which contains phosphorus). By limiting fertilizer usage along the shorelines of lakes and rivers, another avenue of phosphorus entering our waterbodies was eliminated. In 1994, New Hampshire banned phosphorus in most household detergents, thus reducing the residual phosphorus in the wastewater that causes pollution.

Lake management efforts since the 1990s have focused on addressing phosphorus sources emanating from the land areas that drain to our surface waters, areas known as watersheds.

While a forested watershed will naturally deliver some phosphorus to waterbodies, human activities have the potential to increase the delivered phosphorus load dramatically. Some sources include septic systems, fertilizers, animal waste and sediment from erosion and winter sanding. Changes in vegetation can also affect phosphorus runoff by making lakeside areas more attractive to geese and ducks that potentially add nutrients to the watershed and waterbody by defecating along the shoreline and in the waterbody directly.

As lake residents and watershed managers address these sources, there is growing use and acceptance of development techniques that have a low impact on the environment.  Low impact development minimizes runoff, and infiltrates stormwater into the ground onsite to the extent possible. Less runoff means less sediment, both from the landscape and from stream bank erosion, and less sediment means less phosphorus delivered to lakes.

While the Shoreland Protection Act, recently renamed the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act, restricts fertilizer use, it only applies to the first 250 feet from the shore. Since most New Hampshire soils do not require phosphorus to support lawns, except when seeding new areas, there is still great potential for reducing excess phosphorus applied unnecessarily. New Hampshire is working with neighboring states through the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) to develop voluntary guidelines for the manufacture, labeling, and application of fertilizer.

By focusing on this one pollutant—phosphorus—over the last 25 years, fewer of New Hampshire’s beautiful lakes look like pea soup. DES is proud to be playing a leading role in helping enhance the quality of life that is unique to New Hampshire by continuing to tackle the problems that are caused by pollution in our lakes. 

News from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.


No Butts About It … It’s Littering! 

Have you ever wondered when did it become socially acceptable to litter with cigarette butts?

A 2009 New York Times article reveals that people who do not litter with other objects, frequently do so with cigarette butts. Why? Perhaps it is because many smokers are under the misimpression that cigarette butts are biodegradable. They are NOT. Cigarette filters, which are what is normally tossed, are made of cellulose acetate, a plastic that simply breaks down into smaller pieces, but never fully degrades.

And it’s not just about throwing away bits of plastic. The discarded cigarette butt releases toxic chemicals, such as nicotine, cadmium and benzene to the environment, which slowly work their way into our water and soil, especially it seems the sand at our beaches. 

The New Hampshire Marine Debris to Energy program tracks and cleans up debris from New Hampshire’s seacoast. Last year, they counted over 14,000 cigarette butts collected from state beaches. In April, 30 members from the Green Alliance at UNH held a Hampton Beach cleanup, and collected 1,000 cigarette butts in just one hour. 

But it’s not only on beaches where litter from tobacco products is a problem. Cities, towns and highways are also littered with cigarettes. Twenty-five percent or more of litter collected on city streets is attributed to cigarette butts. Nationwide, statistics show that cigarette butts account for 28-33 percent of litter! 

Many municipalities, organizations and individuals are taking steps to combat this issue. A few years ago, the city of Concord enacted a law that prohibits or restricts smoking at several parks and recreation areas popular with children. Around the state, the group Breathe NH hosts an annual event called Bag the Butts, which organizes groups to pick up butts in their communities. The Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation organizes several coastal beach cleanups in New Hampshire, and cigarette butts always represents the largest number of items collected during these events. 

While cigarette butts may be small, cumulatively they are a large problem. Wildlife and humans alike are negatively impacted by both the litter and the toxins. Fortunately, there are also steps we can take to minimize their impact.

If you smoke, please don’t litter. 

Dispose of your cigarette butts responsibly.  All of us should speak up if we see someone littering, regardless of whether it is a cigarette butt or another piece of trash.  It is all littering. For more information on what you can do to keep tobacco products in the ashtray and out of our environment, visit our website. 

GREENWorks 
Ideas for a Cleaner Environment 
A publication of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Concord, NH (603) 271-3710 


Why Keeping New Hampshire’s Lakes Clean is Worth It - By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner - 7-23-12

In recognition of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ 25th Anniversary, over the course of the year, I will highlight 25 agency activities, programs, projects and accomplishments of the past 25 years. This article, the twelfth in the series, discusses the importance of New Hampshire’s lakes.

Whether you enjoy water sports, boating, relaxing in the sun or taking in the extraordinary water views while driving or hiking, our beautiful lakes provide a quality of life that is unique to New Hampshire.  During the summer people travel near and far to enjoy our sparkling lakes. In fact, July has been proclaimed by Governor Lynch as Lakes Appreciation Month, but here at the Department of Environmental Services (DES) we are focused on protecting our lakes all 12 months of the year. Even before DES became New Hampshire’s environmental agency 25 years ago, the staff at one of our predecessor agencies, the Water Supply and Pollution Control Commission, and countless volunteers had been hard at work around the state to ensure that New Hampshire’s lakes would be swimmable, fishable, and generally enjoyable to all.

As the Governor’s proclamation notes, “New Hampshire lakes are invaluable economic resources for Granite State businesses, tourists and municipal governments.”  Freshwater recreation, including boating, fishing and swimming, in the Lakes region alone generate approximately $210 million dollars in sales, $74 million in household income, and 3,313 jobs annually (Nordstrom, 2007).  Statewide, these number more than triple.

One key to maintaining the economic benefits that are derived from New Hampshire’s lakes and ponds is water clarity, a direct measure of water quality.  An increase in water clarity has been proven to increase property values as well as recreational use on a lake, thereby increasing tax base and the number of jobs and revenue produced in relation to these activities.

So how is water clarity in New Hampshire’s lakes?  The answer to that question, based on 25 years of monitoring data, is that our lakes are generally in good condition.   However, statewide, lake waters are getting less clear at a rate of about 1% year.  Lake clarity is a measure of how far down you can see into a lake, and it can be used to measure changes in a lake over time. Reduced water clarity is usually due to pollution from people’s activities on the land.

The biggest problem facing our lakes today is polluted stormwater runoff.  With increases in paved surfaces, roofs and other impervious surfaces, the amount of water that runs over the land, and the rate at which it does, will only increase.  This water will pick up whatever it flows over – including soil, pet waste, fertilizers and pesticides, gas, oil or trash - and carry it down hill into lakes and ponds, thereby polluting the water. With reduced vegetated buffers, particularly in the near shore area of these lakes, there is little opportunity for the water to sink into the ground or be filtered by vegetation. Maintaining the existing natural vegetation and the protection of natural vegetated buffers around lakes and ponds is the single most important thing that people can do to protect water quality.

Concerns about unprecedented growth around our lakes in the 1980s led directly to the passage of the Lakes Management and Protection Program in 1990 and the Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act in 1991 (recently renamed the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act).  Both of these pieces of legislation have helped to protect our lakes. With the passage of the Lakes Management and Protection Act, the Lakes Management Advisory Committee (LMAC) was established. The LMAC, which consists of 19 members, is the only committee of its kind in the state, providing advice and oversight regarding the comprehensive management of the state’s lakes and ponds.

In addition to the state’s efforts, there are hundreds of lake associations that serve as the eyes and ears of their lakes and the lands above these lakes that provide the water to fill them (also know as a “watershed”). Most of what we now know about the water quality and the condition of our lakes comes from our Volunteer Lake Assessment Program (VLAP), which was formed in 1985. Hundreds of dedicated VLAP volunteers collect data on 180 lakes each summer looking at the three main indicators of lake health: water clarity, algal growth, and total phosphorus (the nutrient that promotes algal growth). The data from these lakes provide an excellent picture of overall lake quality.

If our lakes are clean and clear, the recreational, social, aesthetic opportunities and the economic activity they afford the state will flourish. It’s been a beautiful summer already on New Hampshire’s lakes and ponds, and here at DES we’re proud to be playing a leading role in protecting our waterbodies to enhance our economy and the long-term viability of the New Hampshire way of life.


New Hampshire Water Sustainability Commission Seeks Public Input Through July 31, 2012- 7-17-12

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Water Sustainability Commission is seeking feedback via a written public comment period regarding how New Hampshire residents envision managing the water challenges faced by New Hampshire over the next 25 years. The Commission will be using this information, along with reports from other public engagement opportunities, to develop recommendations for what must be accomplished to ensure clean, plentiful and affordable water in the state. Comments may be submitted to the Water Sustainability Commission via the following link until July 31, 2012 click Water Sustainability Commisson Survey.

The New Hampshire Water Sustainability Commission is dedicated to identifying strategies and sustainable management measures to ensure that the quality and quantity of New Hampshire's water resources are as good in the future as, or better than, they are today.  To help accomplish this, the Commission is seeking to build an informed and engaged public to assist in this effort. 

Public comments will be considered for inclusion in the final report of the Commission's work, which will be submitted to the Governor in September 2012.

The Commission was established by Governor John Lynch through Executive Order 2011-2   in April 2011. One of its goals is to secure the place of water and water-related issues as a priority to be addressed by future Governors and legislative sessions along with community leaders from all sectors of New Hampshire life. The Commission provides access to their work and information about water-related concerns in the state through the hosting of an up-to-date website, the creation of an email address where the public can reach the Commission directly with questions or comments, and the offering of several statewide conversations centering around New Hampshire water issues. All Commission meetings are open to the public; meeting times and minutes from past meetings are posted on their website.

For further information about the New Hampshire Water Sustainability Commission, visit the following website: Water Sustainablity Commission  or contact the Commission via email: watersustainabilitycommission@gmail.com. 


Lake and river residents - DES Warns of Expanding Infestations of Exotic Aquatic Plants Infestations

Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) has documented two new infestations of variable milfoil, an exotic aquatic plant, within a week of each other.  Both infestations were well-established when found and appear to have been present for at least 2-3 years before being reported. 

Freshwater exotic aquatic plants are those that are not naturally found in New Hampshire’s lakes, ponds and rivers, and because they are not naturally found here, they have no predators or diseases that keep them in check, allowing them to grow quickly. These exotic plants dominate the shallows of freshwater systems, to the detriment of native plants, fish, aquatic insects and other aquatic life.  Exotic aquatic plants lead to water quality impairments, can reduce shorefront property values, and can be problematic to the aesthetic and recreational values of waterbodies.

New Hampshire, with these two new additions, now has a total of 78 infested waterbodies, most containing variable milfoil as the primary invasive plant, while others have fanwort, Eurasian water milfoil, water chestnut and Didymo (also known as rock snot, an invasive algae), among other common species.  This tally includes 67 lakes and ponds and 11 river systems.

DES has an Exotic Species Program that focuses on prevention, early detection and rapid response to these plants. Prevention activities are achieved through education and outreach about the problem of invasive species and through smart boater activities that involve inspecting and cleaning transient recreation gear before entering a waterbody and after exiting that waterbody. Boats, trailers, fishing gear, SCUBA gear and other items that come in contact with the water should be checked so that they do not spread exotic plants between waterbodies.  Early detection activities are also achieved through a network of volunteers that are trained to identify the various exotic species and to report any new infestations. Rapid response activities initiated at the state level are aimed at containment and control so that new infestations can be eradicated or greatly reduced, so that they do not come to dominate a waterbody.

The two new infestations that were documented were on waterbodies without established programs for prevention and early detection, so they went unnoticed until they covered large areas. When infestations reach this level they are more difficult to manage, and eradication is not often feasible.

The early ice out this year, along with warmer than average temperatures have contributed to more pronounced and rapid growth of exotic species.  The DES urges lake and river residents and transient boaters to routinely monitor for exotic aquatic plants and report new infestations. Look for plants that appear to be dominating an area of a lake or river bed, that are brighter green in color, and that appear to be spreading quickly.  Maps of existing infestations, as well as information, photographs and descriptions on exotic and prohibited plants in New Hampshire can be found on the Exotic Species Program Page at www.des.nh.gov.


DES Declares Air Quality Action Day
Unhealthy Air Pollution Levels Predicted for Friday and Saturday
- 7-12-12

Concord, NH - The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) is expecting air pollution concentrations to reach unhealthy levels for sensitive individuals in Hillsborough and Rockingham Counties on Friday July 13 through Saturday July 14.  DES officials are calling for an Air Quality Action Day and advise sensitive individuals in these areas to take precautions to protect their health by limiting prolonged or heavy exertion. Sensitive individuals include children and older adults, anyone with heart or lung disease such as asthma, emphysema, and bronchitis, and people who are active outdoors. Even healthy individuals may experience mild health effects and should consider limiting strenuous or prolonged activities.

DES forecasts unhealthy concentrations of ground-level ozone (the main component of smog) for sensitive individuals in the above-mentioned regions.   In addition, concentrations of fine particle pollution are forecasted to be moderate throughout the state.  The combination of the two pollutants may intensify health effects.

Unhealthy air quality is anticipated due to the persistence of high temperatures under sunny skies and light winds transporting pollution into New Hampshire from surrounding areas.  Conditions are expected to improve on Sunday as cooler, cleaner air moves into the region.

Symptoms of ozone exposure include coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or pain when inhaling deeply, and shortness of breath.  Symptoms of particle pollution exposure for people with heart disease may include chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath, and fatigue.  People with existing lung diseases may not be able to breathe as deeply or vigorously as normal and may experience symptoms such as coughing and shortness of breath.  The severity of the health effects increases as ozone and fine particle concentrations increase.  In addition to harmful health effects, fine particle pollution may create hazy conditions that reduce visibility.

For further information, contact DES at (603) 271-1370.  For air quality forecasts and current air pollution levels in New Hampshire, call 1-800-935-SMOG, visit the DES website at www.airquality.nh.gov, or sign up for personalized email alerts at www.enviroflash.info.


New Hampshire's Energy, Environmental, and Economic Development Benchmark Report.  - 6-29-2012 

 The Benchmark Report is also intended to foster greater public awareness and dialogue on these important issues, so that residents, business owners, and state and local officials can make informed energy decisions and support wise management of the state’s energy use.

The report is an effort of the NH Energy & Climate Collaborative, which includes a diverse representation of leaders from the public, private and non-profit sectors.  These individuals joined together to support the implementation of the Climate Action Plan, which they believe is central to planning for a secure energy, environmental and economic future for the state.  NH DES Commissioner Burack has chaired the Collaborative since its inception in May 2009.

Click “New Hampshire's Energy, Environmental, and Economic Development Benchmark Report.”  to read the entire report.

 


Hampton Beach State Park is rated a Five Star Beach by NRDC
N.H. Coastal Beaches rated 2nd Cleanest Beaches in Nation
- June 28, 2012

Concord, NH – The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has rated Hampton Beach State Park a five star beach and called New Hampshire coastal beaches 2nd cleanest in the nation. The NRDC has published its 22nd Annual “Testing the Waters” report analyzing beach data reported to the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) by coastal and Great Lakes states. The NRDC report rated 200 beaches nationally on a five star scale with only 12 beaches nationally receiving all five stars.  In addition to Hampton Beach State Park, Wallis Sands Beach at Wallis Road also received a five star rating.

Only 1 percent of 1,144 samples collected at coastal New Hampshire beaches during 2011 exceeded the state standard of 104 counts of Enterococci/100 ml of water.  New Hampshire ranks second among the 30 states that are part of the EPA’s beach monitoring program, behind Delaware.  Of the 16 New Hampshire beaches sampled in 2011, 10 did not have any elevated bacteria results at all. 

“Thanks to the collaborative efforts of DES, the New Hampshire Division of Parks and Recreation, the local communities that host the beaches, non-profit organizations like the Blue Ocean Society and the NH Surfrider Foundation, as well as their countless volunteers, New Hampshire’s coastal beaches year after year continue to score as the cleanest in the country,” said DES Commissioner Tom Burack.

“Hampton Beach State Park hosts hundreds of thousands visitors a year, we are proud to offer them a Five Star Beach,” stated Commissioner George Bald, Department of Resources and Economic Development (DRED) The Commissioner also applauded DES for their efforts to keep our waters and shorelines clean. Part of Bald’s agency, the Division of Parks and Recreation is responsible for the management of this area.

New Hampshire residents should be proud of our coastal water quality and strive to maintain these levels. Simple steps everyone can take will prevent beach pollution in all locations. Everyone can help by picking up pet waste, maintaining septic systems, putting swim diapers with plastic covers on babies, and keeping trash off the beach. Together, everyone can work to maintain New Hampshire’s top rated beaches.

The DES Beach Inspection Program monitors the water at New Hampshire public swimming beaches from late May until early September. Personnel collect water for analysis at coastal and freshwater beaches. The water samples are analyzed for fecal bacteria to protect public health. For more information visit the Programs website.

Updates on current beach advisories and warnings can be found on the DES website,www.des.nh.gov under the Alerts button. Residents can also sign up to receive notifications about beach advisories at the DES E-news subscription service or by following the NHDES Beaches Twitter feed.

The Division of Parks and Recreation is comprised of the Bureau of Park Operations, Bureau of Historic Sites, Bureau of Trails, and Cannon Mountain. The Division manages 92 properties, including state parks, beaches, campgrounds, historic sites, trails, waysides, and natural areas. The Division of Parks and Recreation is one of four divisions of the Department of Resources and Economic Development. To learn more, visit HERE or call 603 271-3556.

To review the NRDC report, visit: HERE.


Celebrate National Oceans Month by Volunteering with the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation - June 25, 2012

Portsmouth, N.H. – People who want to help keep New Hampshire’s coast clean and safe for people and marine life can volunteer with the Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation this summer.

Earlier this month, President Barack Obama issued a Presidential Proclamation designating June 2012 as National Oceans Month and called upon Americans to take action to protect, conserve, and restore our oceans, coasts, and the Great Lakes.

“Volunteering with the Blue Ocean Society is a perfect way to answer this call to action and celebrate National Oceans Month in June and beyond,” said Steve Couture, DES Coastal Program Manager. The Coastal Program has supported the Blue Ocean Society’s educational and beach cleanup programs through funding since 2004.

The Society’s volunteers choose the level of commitment that best fits their schedules and interests. For instance, volunteers can participate in a monthly beach cleanup or office volunteer night for 1-2 hours at a time, or do something more involved, such as teach people about marine life as a touch tank educator aboard the Thomas Laighton cruise in Portsmouth, or even aboard a whale watch. All opportunities offer the chance to learn more about New Hampshire’s ocean environment while helping the Society fulfill its mission of protecting and preserving it. 

Current Volunteer Opportunities: 

Beach Cleanups-
The Blue Ocean Society holds monthly beach cleanups at several beaches, and is always looking for help! Learn about cleanup information and dates at HERE

Monofilament Recycling Bins-
Help monitor the bins at various locations around the Seacoast by removing fishing line and filling out a short data sheet throughout the summer and fall. 

Volunteer Nights-
Volunteer Nights are always the second Wednesday of the month from 5-7 pm at the Blue Ocean Society office in Portsmouth. Projects have included collating newsletters, organizing merchandise, and helping to make photo note cards. No training is needed, and it's a great way to meet Blue Ocean Society scientists and educators and learn more about what we do, while hanging out with others who care about the marine environment!

Tide Pool/Touch Tank Educator-
The Society is currently looking for help with the touch tank educational program this summer. Minimum commitment of two days per week is preferred. More info and an application is available at HERE. 

E-mail or call Jen Kennedy for more details on how to get involved with any of these opportunities at jen@blueoceansociety.org   or 431-0260.

Learn about more volunteer opportunities by visiting the Blue Ocean Society Volunteer webpage HERE. 

Read the President’s full Proclamation on National Oceans Month HERE.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Coastal Program provides funding and staff assistance to towns and cities, and other local and regional groups who protect clean water, restore coastal habitats, and help make communities more resilient to flooding and other natural hazards. The program’s efforts are focused on N.H.'s coastal watershed, an area that encompasses 820 square miles and 42 municipalities. The Coastal Program supports the region’s economy by helping to preserve the environmental health of the coast and Great Bay and Hampton-Seabrook estuaries for fishing and shellfishing, and assisting with the maintenance of our ports, harbors and tidal rivers for commercial and recreational uses.

The Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation is a Portsmouth-based non-profit organization that is celebrating its 10th anniversary as a non-profit organization this year.  Its mission is to protect marine mammals in the Gulf of Maine through education, research and conservation. Staff members work on local whale watch and tour boats (including Granite State Whale Watch and Atlantic Fishing & Whale Watching in Rye, NH, Isles of Shoals Steamship Company in Portsmouth, and Newburyport Whale Watch in Newburyport, MA) and use this platform to educate the public on local marine ecosystems and conservation measures.  Blue Ocean Society staff and volunteers also conduct monthly beach cleanups and maintain a student internship program, a sightings database of local whales, and a Web site the public can access for updated sightings and conservation information.  Volunteer and sponsorship opportunities are available.

CONTACT: Catherine Coletti, DES Coastal Program; 559-0024 and
 Jen Kennedy,  Blue Ocean Society for Marine Conservation, 431-0260


25 Years of Progress in Fighting Ozone Air Pollution in New Hampshire - By Thomas S. Burack, DES Commissioner - June 19, 2012

In recognition of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ 25th Anniversary, over the course of the year, I will highlight 25 agency activities, programs, projects and accomplishments of the past 25 years. This article, the tenth in the series, discusses efforts to reduce the health risk associated with exposure to ozone air pollution.

Ozone, a harmful air pollutant, has probably been prevalent in New Hampshire’s air since we began burning large quantities of fuel to power the industrial revolution, but it has only been since the formation of the state’s Department of Environmental Services 25 years ago that real progress has been made in protecting the state’s residents from the harmful effects of ozone.

At ground-level, ozone is formed as a result of chemical reactions caused by the presence of nitrogen oxides (NOx) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are released from burning fuels in vehicles, power plants, industrial processes, and the use of chemical cleaners, solvents, and coatings. When these compounds react with strong sunlight they produce ground-level ozone. Ozone irritates, and can damage, the throat and lungs. DES issues an "Air Quality Action Day" in New Hampshire when ozone is forecast to reach unhealthy levels. During an Air Quality Action Day, people are encouraged to take precautionary measures to protect their health, especially in the afternoon when ozone levels tend to be the highest.

The establishment of the Clean Air Act in 1970 was our nation’s most significant effort to reduce air pollution, including NOx and VOCs. The Clean Air Act has reduced asthma attacks, heart disease, and numerous other health conditions that affect many Americans. The 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act set National Ambient Air Quality Standards based on health studies for six pollutants, including carbon monoxide, lead, nitrogen dioxide, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, and ozone. 

In its early years, the Clean Air Act approached air pollution as a local or state concern and directed areas exceeding the health standard to develop plans to reduce air pollution within a defined time period.  In 1977 portions of New Hampshire were not meeting the health standard for ozone. To come into compliance, the air monitoring program was expanded to track air pollution levels in all areas of the state. We worked with industry to reduce pollution, and the legislature enacted a mandatory motor vehicle inspection and maintenance program. Since then, New Hampshire has shown improvements in air quality for nearly all pollutants.

Unfortunately, ozone problems continued within the borders of many eastern states. We now know that a significant portion of the ozone in New Hampshire comes from outside the state. Winds transport ozone in from states to the south and west of us.  These states often resisted limiting their pollution because the ozone they created did not affect them, and they did not wish to be held accountable for contributing to high ozone levels in other states.

To address this issue, in the mid-1990s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), studied the transport issue with the help of states and stakeholders. This resulted in a program requiring 22 states to reduce nitrogen oxides from power plants.  This program was a success and set the precedent for how to address air pollution transport. This brought all of New Hampshire into compliance with the health standard by the late 1990s.  In 1997, EPA lowered the ozone standard to be more protective, which put southern New Hampshire above the limit. With improved understanding about ozone, the Northeast has made progress toward cleaner cars and fuels and more pollution control equipment on power plants.  New Hampshire successfully met the new ozone standard in 2007.

EPA lowered the ozone standard further in 2008 based on new health studies, but our entire state continues to pass the test. New Hampshire has worked regionally as a member of the 13-state Ozone Transport Commission and participates in other regional and national forums to study and develop solutions to ozone transport. When appropriate, New Hampshire adopts pollution control plans not only to keep our own air from getting worse, but also to keep from polluting those who live downwind of us. 

As we look to the future, DES expects to see EPA set lower health based standards for ozone. We need to continue to build a strong economy while taking advantage of technical advances that allow us to maintain our clean air. New Hampshire is considered one of the most livable states in the nation due in part to our clean air and clean water. We all can continue to enjoy the high quality of life in New Hampshire by working together to ensure that a healthy environment and a strong economy continue to go hand-in-hand. 

 

  

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“In nature nothing exists alone.”
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and spring after winter.”
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