Septic tanks and nitrogen pollution in the Great Bay Estuary

June 28, 2011

On Wednesday, June 29, 2011, Bambi Miller of the Strafford County Conservation District and Tom Canfield of Septic Design and Installations will host a “How to Make Your Septic System Last Forever!” workshop for septic system owners at the Lee Safety Complex, located at 20 George Bennet Road in Lee, NH. The event kicks off at 7:00 PM.

The 2009 State of the Estuaries Report identifies faulty septic tanks as a source of fecal coliform bacteria and nitrogen pollution in the Great Bay Estuary.

Event sponsored by the Lamprey River Advisory Committee and Lee Conservation Service. For more information, contact Bambi Miller at (603) 749-3037 or


Great Bay a focus of the New Hampshire Climate Forum

October 28, 2010

Last week, I traveled to Manchester to participate in the New Hampshire Climate Forum. The event was organized by the Carbon Action Alliance to provide voters with the opportunity to ask the state’s Congressional candidates questions about the issues of clean energy and climate change. My role was to provide an overview of the impacts of climate change on New Hampshire’s coastal environment.

All six of New Hampshire’s major candidates for federal office were invited. None showed up. It’s a shame, because the event forged ahead with a number of informative presentations discussing the local dimensions of the climate issue. For my part, I focused in on the threat climate change poses to the Great Bay Estuary. The ecological health of this key coastal habitat is already in decline, as evidenced by rising nitrogen levels and rapid declines in populations of key species like eelgrass and oysters. Climate change will only exacerbate these problems. Indeed, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that it already is.

Earlier this year, researchers at the Jackson Estuarine Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire published an op-ed piece that concisely laid out the need to act to protect Great Bay from the impacts of climate change:

“Plant and animal life in the estuary are being damaged by the recurrence of ‘100-year storms’ at much more frequent intervals.”

“…the oysters in the Great Bay Estuary are now strongly affected by two major pathogens that have spread northward over the past several years, presumably because of increasing temperatures.”

There’s more. Read the entire op-ed piece on Seacoastonline.

Since 1997, Senator Judd Gregg has secured $56 million for the protection of Great Bay. That’s just a portion of the millions of dollars that have been spent on projects aimed at saving one of the largest estuaries found on the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an investment that is worth protecting by taking the threat posed by climate change seriously.

Although the NH Climate Forum did not get on the radar of the Granite State’s congressional candidates, the event was covered by Elizabeth McGowan of Solve Climate News. The piece has been picked up by Reuters and mentions Great Bay specifically:

New Hampshire Candidates Quiet on Climate and Clean Energy

This post was written by David Anderson, Project Coordinator for the New Hampshire Coastal Protection Partnership and Administrator for Save Great Bay. Please send all your Great Bay related news to or call Dave at (603) 617-0679.

New Hampshire ranks 1st in nation for beach water quality

July 28, 2010

HAMPTON BEACH – New Hampshire leads the nation in beach water quality, according to a new report released by the Natural Resources Defense Council. Water pollution closed beaches in New Hampshire for a total of 12 days last year. Nationwide, water pollution resulted in more than 18,000 beach closings and advisories in 2009.

Representatives from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, State Division of Parks and Recreation, Sierra Club, Surfrider Foundation, and Environment New Hampshire spoke at an event marking the report’s release at Hampton Beach today.

“When families head to the beach this summer, they shouldn’t have to worry about swimming in polluted water that can make them sick,” said Environment New Hampshire Advocate Jessica O’Hare.

Most of the beach closings that took place in New Hampshire in 2009 were caused by elevated bacteria levels. Contaminated beach water can expose swimmers to a variety of waterborne illnesses, including stomach flu, skin rashes, pinkeye, dysentery, and hepatitis. The precise of the bacteria remains unknown at this time.

Read the complete report: Testing the Waters: A Guide to Water Quality at Vacation Beaches

Read the NRDC’s New Hampshire factsheet

Jessica O’Hare of Environment New Hampshire discusses the NRDC report

Despite ranking first in the nation for beach water quality, water pollution continues to be a problem within the Granite State’s coastal watershed. NHDES has listed a number of the region’s surface waters as impaired or threatened by pollution. The list include Little Bay, Great Bay, Bellamy River, Cocheco River, Exeter River, Oyster River, Piscataqua River, Lamprey River, and Salmon Falls River.

View the complete list of impaired or threatened surface waters in New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Coastal Protection Partnership is working to reduce water pollution in the Granite State’s coastal watershed. Learn more by visiting, signing up for our email list, or following us on Twitter or Facebook.

Earth Day Workshop: Backyard Solutions to Nitrogen Pollution in the Great Bay Estuary

April 13, 2010

Portsmouth, NH – The New Hampshire Coastal Protection Partnership will celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day by hosting an eco-friendly workshop highlighting steps that local residents can take to reduce nitrogen pollution in the Great Bay Estuary right in their own backyard. Participants will get basic tips on how to install a rain garden at home. They will also learn how to make eco-friendly decisions about lawn fertilization.

When: Tuesday, April 20 from 7 to 8 PM

Where: Urban Forestry Center Meeting Room – 45 Elwyn Rd. in Portsmouth, NH

Free and open to the public, with a suggested donation of $10. RSVP online at or send an email to

The workshop is part of the New Hampshire Coastal Protection Partnership’s ongoing efforts to improve water quality in Great Bay by reducing nitrogen pollution from two major sources: lawn fertilizers and stormwater run-off. When it rains, stormwater run-off carries nitrogen from lawn fertilizers, pet waste, and leaky septic tanks into the estuary. As a result, the total nitrogen load to Great Bay has increased by more than 42 percent over the past five years. Nitrogen pollution can trigger explosions of algae in an estuary that consume oxygen and block out sunlight aquatic plants and wildlife need to survive, leading to a loss of habitat.

The week of Earth Day is a great time for the seacoast community to come together and learn how to take action to protect Great Bay. This critical coastal habitat is home to more than 162 species and plays an important role in the local economy. Countless tourists travel to the seacoast to learn about the estuary each year.

“What’s so Great About Great Bay?” talk at Hopkinton Library April 10

April 7, 2010

The Little Nature Museum Presents……

 “What’s So Great About Great Bay? “with Nathan Hazen

 April 10, 2010 at 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM at the Community Room in the Hopkinton Town Library, Contoocook, NH

The event is FREE; donations appreciated.

Nathan Hazen, a UNH marine Sea Trek docent of 10 years, will highlight the unique and invaluable habitats of Great Bay. His illustrated program includes the development of the Piscataqua Basin and history of the area.

For program information call  603-746-6121.

Learn more about the Little Nature Museum.

The Road Less Salted: Water Quality and Salt Reduction Seminar

March 26, 2010

This free water quality and road salt seminar will take place on May 13, 2010 from 8:30 am – 12 pm at the Hugh Gregg Coastal Conservation Center in Greenland, N.H.  Attend to learn more about how road salt affects water quality and what can be done to maximize both safety and chloride reduction. View the road salt seminar flyer  for more information.

Land Resource Mangement Workshop

February 22, 2010

The workshop, hosted by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, is geared towards those involved with land development, and land conservation and management, from consultants and environmental professionals to municipal employees, non-profit organizations and volunteers. There are three dates to choose from: March 5, March 23 or April 23. For more information and to register download registration form.