WATER RESOURCES PLANNING
As part of our environmental planning responsibilities, the SNHPC offers guidance and technical assistance to member communities in the protection of surface and groundwater resources. Having an adequate supply and quality of drinking water is paramount to the growth and development of the region. Seeking intergovernmental cooperation in the protection of these natural systems is a high priority.
Outreach Program to Develop And Implement Local Land Use Regulations to Protect the Remaining Undisturbed Natural Shoreland Buffers in the Towns of Candia and Deerfield, NH.
Water Supply Task Force
The Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission has been working with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, the New Hampshire Geological Survey, the United States Geological Survey, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, to reactivate the Southern New Hampshire Water Supply Task Force for the purpose of conducting two very important surface water and groundwater studies for our regions located in the Merrimack River Basin. These studies will comprehensively plan for the water supply and wastewater needs of the Merrimack River Basin. The studies were developed in response to input provided by community leaders, public works directors, engineers, and water system operators as discussed at the forums. The Chair for the Southern New Hampshire Water Supply Task Force is NH DES Commissioner Tom Burrack.
Regional Assessment of the Availability and Quality of Ground-Water Resources in the Merrimack River Watershed, New Hamphsire
Upper Merrimack And Pemigewasset River Study Project Study Plan
Hooksett Wellhead Protection Final Report
Piscataquog River Local Advisory Committee
The SNHPC provides technical and administrative assistance to the Piscataquog River Local Advisory Committee (PRLAC) in river management and land use planning. During 2005, SNHPC developed a summary brochure entitled, “Protecting the Piscataquog River” and in 1999 helped create the “Piscataquog River Management Plan-Draft.” We now also have available a Draft of the "Piscataquog River Management Plan - 2010"
Local Water Resources Management and Protection Plans
The New Hampshire Legislature established the Water Protection Assistance Program in 1986 to encourage comprehensive surface and groundwater resources planning and protection. Since then, the SNHPC has prepared Local Water Resources Management and Protection Plans for all of its member communities. These plans require a municipality to inventory its water resources. These may be defined in terms of threats to water quality from pollutants, the need for public/private water supplies, and demands from competing water uses, such as recreation, wildlife habitat, hydropower production and fire protection. New Hampshire municipalities are not required to develop a water plan, but are encouraged to do so if they plan to propose ordinances or amendments to existing regulations intended to protect the municipality’s water resources. RSA 674:2 (d) states that the natural resources section of a master plan should include a local water resources management and protection plan as specified by RSA 4-C: 22. For these reasons, it is important that communities keep their existing water plans up to date.
Town of Hooksett Water Resources Management and Protection Plan Update
Watershed Management Plans
A watershed is defined as the geographic area in which all water running off the land drains to a given stream, lake, wetland, or other water body. Watershed management plans focus specifically on the watershed as a management unit. The watershed scale is preferred for assessment studies, stream classification and management planning for several reasons. First, the influence of impervious cover on hydrology, water quality and biodiversity is readily apparent at the watershed level. Second, watersheds are small enough to identify pollutant sources (e.g. storm water runoff, point sources, etc.) and develop clear management solutions. Moreover, since watersheds often cross municipal boundaries, it is necessary to build partnerships among communities to develop effective watershed management tools. SNHPC is currently working with the Nashua Regional Planning Commission on an Interconnectivity and Mutual Aid Study for the Southern New Hampshire Region. For more information about the development of watershed management plans, visit the Center for Watershed Protection and the State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Watershed Management Bureau websites.
SNHPC has been collaborating with the Nashua Regional Planning Commission and the NH DES in the development of the Interconnectivity and Mutual Aid Study, Final Draft, Phase I for communities located in the southern part of the state. This study is the first phase of a joint effort between several water systems to improve the water system reliability from natural and man-made disasters. The Final Draft was prepared by Nashua Regional Planning Commission and funded by NH DES.
Pleasant Lake Watershed Restoration Plan
Wellhead Protection Programs
The purpose of a wellhead protection program is to prevent well contamination. Once a well becomes contaminated, it is very costly and sometimes impossible to correct. Preventing contamination is important because most communities depend upon groundwater sources. Wellhead protection programs for new production wells are required by the State of New Hampshire. A community water supplier or municipality who is siting a new production well must develop a wellhead protection program for the well, which identifies the land area that provides water to the well and establishes a management program consisting of local health and land use regulations designed to prevent groundwater contamination.
For more information contact the State of New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Wellhead Protection Program at 271-1168 or see the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Wellhead Protection Program website.
SNHPC is currently working with the Town of Hooksett to develop a new Wellhead Protection Program.
Aquifer Protection Ordinances
An aquifer is any geologic formation that can transmit significant quantities of water to wells and springs. The term is used to describe both unconsolidated sediments and the underlying bedrock. Any formation containing a layer or zone which is relatively permeable (i.e. able to transmit water with relative ease), which is saturated (i.e. filled to capacity with water), and lies adjacent to a less permeable material can be considered an aquifer. In recent years, the US Geological Survey and the New Hampshire DES have prepared a set of maps showing the extent of stratified (sand and gravel) aquifers throughout the state with the estimated transmissivity or ability of the aquifer to produce water. Many communities have adopted groundwater or aquifer protection regulations as part of their Zoning Ordinance, pursuant to RSA 674:16-21 Innovative Land Use Controls, in order to protect these valuable resources. A number of model ordinances exist and SNHPC provides assistance to communities in the development of these regulations.
SNHPC is providing assistance to the Ground Water Protection Council (GWPC); New Hampshire Demonstration Project: Local Source Water Protection Measures.
Source Water Protection Plans
Stormwater Management Regulations
Stormwater runoff is water from rainstorms or snowmelts that flows over the land rather than evaporating or soaking into the ground. In the undeveloped landscape, vegetation slows the runoff of stormwater and allows more time for percolation into groundwater supplies. However, in developed areas where the natural landscape has been covered with pavement and non-porous surfaces (i.e. for homes, businesses, streets and parking), the character of the runoff changes dramatically, often resulting in increased flooding, reduced water quality, and loss of habitat and recreational use. There are a variety of State and Federal programs aimed at public education and outreach on stormwater impacts, illicit discharge detection and elimination, construction site stormwater runoff control, and post-construction stormwater management in new development and redevelopment. For more information you can download the following handbook Stormwater Management for New Hampshire Communities prepared by DES and SNHPC or visit the New Hampshire DES or US EPA websites.
SNHPC has recently assisted with the US EPA Stormwater Phase II Workshops.
Best Management Practices
Best management practices (BMPs) are runoff water management methods that control water flow and reduce the pollutants reaching streams, rivers, ponds and lakes. BMPs are described in the handbook: Best Management Practices to Control Nonpoint Source Pollution A Guide for Citizens and Town Officials (dated January 2004) which can be obtained at the Department of Environmental Services by calling the Watershed Assistance Section at (603) 271-2457. Another excellent guide is the Rockingham County Conservation District and DES, Stormwater Management and Erosion and Sediment Control Handbook for Urban and Developing Areas in New Hampshire, August 1992. Copies of this handbook can be ordered from DES by calling (603) 271-2975.
A Current Assessment of the Water Supply Study
This report evaluates the current utility and relevance of the Water Supply Study for Southern New Hampshire prepared in May 1990 by Roy F. Weston Associates, Inc. in association with the Nashua Regional Planning Commission, Southern New Hampshire Planning Commission, Rockingham Planning Commission, and Strafford Regional Planning Commission. The 1990 Water Supply Study was prepared for the primary purpose of planning for the impact which population growth in southern New Hampshire would have on water supply and distribution in the region.
Piscataquog River Watershed Culvert Prioritization Model Project
SNHPC and the consulting firm Milone and MacBroom are teaming up to prepare for the first time a Decision Making Tool to Aid Communities in Prioritizing thier Culvert Infrastructure for Priority Restoration Projects. This projet is underway now.
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