Hodgson Brook Restoration Project: A model for stormwater action

December 8, 2010

Portsmouth, NH – Back in 2003, an estimated 32 percent of the Hodgson Brook watershed was already covered by impervious surfaces. That meant trouble for the brook and South Mill Pond, the surface water it feeds. When even just 10 percent of a watershed becomes covered by driveways, roads, parking lots, and buildings, water quality can suffer. Experts at the Center for Water Protection predict that severe degradation can occur when 25 percent of watershed becomes covered in these types of surfaces.

The proliferation of impervious surfaces in a watershed can impair the land’s natural ability to absorb stormwater, resulting in an increase in run-off pollution. Stormwater run-off is known to contribute to elevated pollution, nutrient, and bacterial levels in Hodson Brook. Luckily, a growing number of local residents are hard at work implementing hands on solutions to run-off pollution.

A few weeks ago, I joined was among the several dozen people who packed into the Gundalow Company’s office in downtown Portsmouth for an evening lecture by Hodgson Brook Restoration Protect Director Candace Dolan. Under Dolan’s leadership, the group has been successful in getting citizens involved in efforts to improve water quality in the brook’s watershed. Local volunteers have worked to install a tree box filter and rain garden in adjacent neighborhoods. They also installed a bioretention system at the Port City Inn. All three act as all natural stormwater treatment systems.

Run-off pollution is also contributing to the overall decline of the Great Bay Estuary. The hard work of the Hodgson Brook Watershed Project provides a model for action that can be emulated by citizens throughout New Hampshire’s coastal watershed. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!

A bioretention system installed at the Port City Inn by local volunteers

This fall, the Hodgson Brook Restoration Project teamed up with the University of New Hampshire Cooperative Extension and experts from Rutger’s University to host a rain garden workshop for landscaping professionals.

A neighborhood treebox filter installed by the group


Subscribe to the Save Great Bay blog in a reader



Editorial: Great Bay needs everyone’s help

March 26, 2010

An editorial in The Concord Monitor shines a light on the water quality problems facing Great Bay and how people can help by supporting oyster restoration. Read the editorial.

Part of Newmarket gravel pit land belongs to Nature Conservancy

December 11, 2009

Access the Seacoast Online Article here.

“The Planning Board unanimously voted to accept a gravel pit reclamation plan submitted on behalf of The Nature Conservancy for property it owns along Wadleigh Falls Road during its Dec. 8 meeting.

Located at 358 Wadleigh Falls Road, the pit is part of a 115-acre parcel of land extending from Newmarket to Durham that belongs to the conservancy.

Special attention will be taken to create and enhance wildlife habitat for various turtle and bird species that have been found there as well”

Third Annual Lamprey River Symposium, 1/8/2010

December 11, 2009

9:00 am – 12:00 pm, January 8, 2010
Memorial Union Building (MUB), University of New Hampshire

The goal of the Annual Lamprey River Symposium is to facilitate discussion and collaboration between scientists working in the Lamprey River basin and to engage state & local officials, watershed organizations, and concerned citizens into the science and its implications for the entire watershed and on to Great Bay.

Contact Michelle Daley for details. To see previous years’ agendas as well as presentations from last year’s symposium, visit the UNH Lamprey River Symposium webpage.

TREE Facility in Rochester Certified as Wildlife at Work

December 1, 2009

Read the full article as featured in Business NH magazine

“Turnkey Recycling and Environmental Enterprise (TREE) in Rochester was one of 18 facilities to receive re-certification as a ‘Wildlife at Work’ site from the Wildlife Habitat Council. These certifications, announced at the council’s annual meeting, recognize outstanding habitat management and environmental education programs developed through partnerships with local organizations.

The TREE facility is an environmental park encompassing roughly 1,245 acres, of which 150 are actively managed for wildlife. The land abuts both the Isinglass and Cocheco rivers.”

The Isinglass River feeds into the Cocheco River, a tributary of the Great Bay estuarine system.

New Great Bay Oyster Research Report

November 12, 2009

Estuaries Update - November 2009

Testing the lowering of the Exeter River begins

November 3, 2009

The Seacoast Online article regarding the draw-down of the Exeter River, a major tributary of Great Bay,  can be found here:

Testing the lowering of the Exeter River begins

“The process will allow the town to examine the impact on groundwater levels and potential withdrawal rates in the event the Great Dam is removed. During the draw-down, the Department of Public Works and the town’s consultant, Weston & Sampson, will monitor water quality, flow and more.”

The Exeter River is protected by the New Hampshire River Management Protection Program which protects those rivers which have outstanding natural and cultural resources. More information on the river including it’s history, wildlife, fishing, and recreation can be found at:

Designated Rivers – Exeter River

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/.

Oyster Story on NH Chronicle

September 16, 2009