Piscataqua River Dye Study to Begin at Newington and Pease October 27th to 30th

October 23, 2009

(Newington, N.H. – Oct. 23, 2009) – Scientists and engineers from EPA’s New England Regional Laboratory, together with staff from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) will begin conducting a dye tracing study on October 27th.

The scientists will be tracking the flow and dispersion of water in the Piscataqua River from the Pease and Newington Wastewater Treatment Plants upstream into Great Bay, New Hampshire as well as downstream in the Piscataqua River through the communities of Newington and Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Kittery, Maine.

NHDES will produce dispersion maps of the Piscataqua River near Newington from the combined Pease and Newington wastewater treatment plant outfall. Information from this study will be used to aid in the determination of shellfish harvest closure areas.

Rhodamine WT dye will be released the morning of October 27th at the Pease and Newington Wastewater Treatment Plants for a period of 48-72 hours. As a result of the injection, portions of the Piscataqua River may turn reddish in color for a brief time through the communities of Newington, Kittery and Portsmouth; however, the dye is not harmful to people or the ecosystem.

2009 State of the Estuaries Report Reveals Signs of a Declining Coastal Environment

October 23, 2009

A new report from the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) concludes that the environmental quality of the Piscataqua Region estuaries is declining. Eleven of 12 environmental indicators show negative or cautionary trends – up from seven indicators classified this way in 2006.

 The most pressing threats to the estuaries relate to population growth and the associated increases in nutrient loads and non-point source pollution.

 •       Each year, about 2.3 square miles of undeveloped fields and forests in the coastal watershed are converted into roads, parking lots, and/or buildings, dramatically reducing the ability of the land to retain and clean polluted runoff from rainwater and melting snow before entering the estuary.  Sprawling development patterns, which are typical in much of the watershed area, add more developed areas per person than approaches that include compact development or conservation subdivision designs.

 •       In Great Bay, the concentration of dissolved inorganic nitrogen, which can be harmful at high levels, has increased by 44 percent in the past 28 years. The negative effects of this on the estuary system are evident in the decline of water clarity, eelgrass habitat loss, and failure to meet water quality standards for dissolved oxygen concentrations in tidal rivers.

 Other indicators that suggest a declining environment include historically low oyster and clam populations, toxic contaminants present in nearly 25 percent of estuarine sediments, increased prevalence of petroleum-based contaminants in Piscataqua River shellfish, poor migratory fish returns, and continued beach and shellfish bed closures due to bacteria pollution.

 The report highlights one area of environmental improvement. By the end of 2008, 76,269 acres (11.3 percent of the watershed) were permanently protected from development. These undeveloped lands provide critical habitat for wildlife and help prevent further water quality degradation.

 PREP publishes a State of the Estuaries report every three years to communicate the status and trends of key environmental indicators for the Great Bay and Hampton-Seabrook estuaries and the Piscataqua Region watersheds. Public Service of New Hampshire provided funding to PREP to produce this year’s report.

 PREP is a program based at the University of New Hampshire that collaborates with governmental agencies, researchers, conservation organizations, businesses, and the public to implement a management plan to protect, restore, and monitor the region’s coastal watersheds. The program is primarily funded by a grant from the US Environmental Protection Agency.  

 The 2009 State of the Estuaries Report may be viewed at http://www.prep.unh.edu/.

Clean Air – Cool Planet, Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve host climate change and sea level rise roundtable discussion 10/29/09

October 22, 2009

October 29th, 10 A.M. to 12 P.M. at the Ashworth by the Sea, 295 Ocean Blvd. Hampton NH.

Scientists presenting in Hampton on the 29th will be Dr. Gordon Hamilton of the University of Maine and Dr. Mark Fahnestock of the University of New Hampshire. Dr. Steve Miller of the GBNERR will moderate, and Rafe Pomerance, president of Clean Air – Cool Planet, will address federal and international policy options. 

Clean Air-Cool Planet, in partnership with the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (GBNERR), is holding this roundtable to provide officials and opinion leaders with the latest science on the rate of warming and melting in the Arctic. In anticipation of the new and definitive assessment by the AMAP Working Group of the Arctic Council, particularly the chapter on from melting on the Greenland ice sheet, which will be released soon, our “Hip Boot Tour” offers local officials, policymakers, opinion leaders and the public new information. The scientific consensus is that, in the coming century, the Greenland ice sheet’s accelerated mass loss will contribute much more significantly to sea level rise than previously thought. It is now considered probable that overall sea levels will rise over 3 feet along the East Coast of the United States by 2100, possibly approaching 6 feet. These are serious predictions that will have severe repercussions on U.S. coastal communities and need to be assessed by impacted areas. Clean Air-Cool Planet and the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve are looking to involve stakeholders to take meaningful and lasting action at a national and local level. The Hip Boot Tour will target seven states on the East Coast and Washington D.C.

More information on the Hipboot Tour

Hipboot tour schedule

State of the Estuaries Conference a Success

October 22, 2009

The 2009 State of the Estuaries Conference that took place last Friday was a success, and signified the formal release of the 2009 State of the Estuaries Report.

 102009 006

 With over 200 attendees, the event was abuzz with presentations focusing on hot topics concerning the estuaries in the Piscataqua region (of which Great Bay is a part of). Those topics included: climate change and adaptation; watershed restoration; regional issues in land use and habitat protection; fisheries conservation; land use planning strategies; and nutrient management for New Hampshire’s estuaries.

 102009 013

 There was also a formal signing ceremony signifying a partnership agreement between New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) and the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP). Over the past 20 years, DES has developed informal partnerships with more than 200 different non-profits, trade associations, educational institutions and governmental organizations with the goal of better aligning joint efforts.



 The primary purpose of the conference however, was the formal release of the 2009 State of the Estuaries Report. We will be posting a more formal summary of the report soon but the key finding was that the environmental quality of the Pisacataqua Region estuaries is declining. This pronouncement serves to further validate the concerns governing the formation of the Save Great Bay group.

Buds, Bark and Needles 10/22/09

October 21, 2009


Urban Forestry Center, 45 Elwyn Ave, Portsmouth, NH 03801

Using the distinctive characteristics of leaves is quite helpful in identifying trees. However, after trees have lost their leaves in the fall, tree identifications much more challenging. Join Angie Hammond, Community Tree Steward, for a presentation on using the distinguishing features of buds, bark and needles to identify trees. Samples from common tree species in our area will be available for your inspection. Weather permitting, we will go for an identification walk.

The cost for this program is $5.00 Please call 603.431.6774 to pre-register and for more information.

Taking Action for Wildlife Workshop 10/22/09

October 14, 2009

On Thursday October 22, from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. a workshop entitled Taking Action for Wildlife will be held at GBNERR’s Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center. This is an opportunity for municipal planning officials to learn how to recognize habitats critical to the survival of species at risk, use information in the NH Wildlife Action Plan, identify actions you can take to conserve wildlife in your community, and incorporate wildlife considerations into your municipal planning documents. The workshop will include a brief overview of the NH Wildlife Action Plan, hands-on exercises, and a discussion of how towns can incorporate wildlife habitat needs into their conservation planning. The event will include a light dinner. There is no charge for the workshop but registration is required by Monday October 19. To register or if you have questions call Steve at 778-0015 ext. 305 or email at Steve.Miller@Wildlife.nh.gov.

State of the Estuaries Report to be released at Oct. 16th conference

October 14, 2009

This is in part a reminder that the 2009 State of the Estuaries Conference will be happening this Friday, Oct. 16 in Somersworth, NH. The Conference is hosted by the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) and will highlight the results of the 2009 State of the Estuaries Report. PREP produces the reports every 3 years, meant to highlight the trends seen in the measurements of twelve environmental indicators.  These indicators have been carefully chosen to be representative of the health of the Piscataqua region estuaries.

Past reports can be accessed here:

State of the Estuaries 2006

State of the Estuaries 2003

For more information on the conference, please contact Derek Sowers, PREP project coordinator at 603.862.2641

Keep checking the blog – We’ll be reporting out on the conference and the results of this year’s report in the very near future!