New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services issued the following announcement on May 24.
The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau recently recognized the Town of Gorham and the Strafford Regional Planning Commission for their work to protect and conserve sources of public drinking water at its annual Drinking Water Source Protection Conference on May 16.
The Town of Gorham received this year's Source Water Protection Award for its effort to permanently conserve nearly all of the watershed area associated with Ice Gulch and Perkins Brook, the primary sources of drinking water to the Town of Gorham.
By the fall of 2019, 3,500 acres of town-owned watershed land in Gorham and Randolph will be protected by deed restrictions that will provide protections, but will still allow forestry, agriculture and water supply activities. This land currently is part of the Gorham Town Forest. The deed restrictions will permanently protect 98% of the Ice Gulch Watershed and 85% of the Perkins Brook Watershed. These two watersheds empty into impoundments via Perkins Brook and Ice Gulch and then enter Gorham's Drinking Water Treatment Plant, which serves 90% of the town's 2,600 residents. The town has a long commitment to protecting Perkins Brook and Ice Gulch, dating back to 1936.
Strafford Regional Planning Commission (SRPC) received this year's Source Water Sustainability Award for completing several significant water conservation efforts with stakeholder groups in the cities of Rochester and Dover. In Rochester's case, the city updated regulations to limit water use during a declared drought, while Dover updated its site plan regulations to retain more existing natural vegetation and require more water efficient landscaping for new proposed development. Changing these regulations will help reduce new water demand, which could be critically important during future droughts.
The annual NHDES Drinking Water Source Protection Conference, held at the Grappone Center in Concord, attracted over 240 water suppliers, municipal officials and volunteers, and industry consultants and covered a wide variety of drinking water protection topics.
NHDES Commissioner Bob Scott opened the annual conference by stressing how important it is to continue to protect local sources of drinking water. Commissioner Scott discussed current efforts to consider lowering the drinking water standards for PFAS (poly and perfluorinated compounds) and arsenic. He also noted a recent study coordinated by the agency concerning the financial impact and health improvements associated with lowering the arsenic standard from 10 parts per billion to 5 parts per billion.
The Commissioner also noted ongoing efforts over the last year to fund priority water infrastructure projects and work with conservation partners to protect over 7,000 acres of high-priority water supply land areas across the state. "The NHDES Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau has made it a priority to work with water suppliers, communities, and other partners to ensure the long-term viability of the state's drinking water sources by conserving the lands around those sources", said NHDES Commissioner Scott.
For more information about the Source Water Protection Awards or Conference, please contact Andrew Madison, NHDES Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau at (603) 271-2950.
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