Plymouth, N.H. –New Hampshire’s water supplies are in good condition, according to the chairman of the Governor’s Water Sustainability Commission, but infrastructure needs to be upgraded to deal with expected increases in high precipitation storms. Environmental engineer John Gilbert spoke at the New Hampshire Water and Watershed Conference Friday, March 23 at Plymouth State University, stating the biggest threats facing Granite State water supplies are non-point nutrient pollution, such as fertilizer runoff from farm fields, leaching from septic tanks, and storm water runoff due to insufficient infrastructure.
“I would say, overall, the quality and quantity of New Hampshire’s water supplies is really quite good,” Gilbert said.
Gilbert also noted that he expects to see more severe weather events like Tropical Storm Irene impact New Hampshire in coming years, and the state needs to be better prepared to deal with high precipitation events.
“I think we need to attend to our infrastructure. Our storm water infrastructures are overwhelmed; the culverts we have are designed for 100-year storms that are now occurring every ten to twenty-five years, and that’s why we’re seeing all the road and bridge washouts,” said Gilbert.
‘We have to be thinking differently about our design criteria for infrastructure, and we need to reconsider how our existing infrastructure can be adapted to effectively deal with the changing conditions, so it doesn’t keep repeating.”
The Governor’s Water Sustainability Commission, consisting of 14 New Hampshire residents, will deliver a report on the health of the state’s waterways to Governor John Lynch this September. Gilbert said the group has met more than a dozen times examining the issues surrounding the future of the state’s water supplies.
More than 225 people from many sectors across the state attended the New Hampshire Water and Watershed Conference, which is organized to share the latest updates on New Hampshire’s water-related policies and applications, as well as facilitate statewide planning for keeping water supplies safe. PSU President Sara Jayne Steen said the conference is a great example of how a broad spectrum of New Hampshire interest groups can join together in creating a better future.
“We can do much when we sit down to solve problems and work together…saying we’re going to do what we need to do in order to address today’s and tomorrow’s problems, and none is more important than our water resources,” said Steen.
For more information about this release, contact Bruce Lyndes, PSU News Services Mgr., or call (603) 535-2775.