Exeter, NH, Takes Steps to Reduce Great Bay Pollution

Algae Growth, Winnicut River, Greenland, NH. Photo/CLF/Peter Wellenberger, Great Bay-Piscataqua Waterkeeper.

CLF Scoop: In early January 2013, the Town of Exeter’s Selectmen voted 5 to 0 not to appeal a permit issued by the EPA—a permit that will require a major upgrade of its sewage treatment plant. Exeter becomes the second Great Bay community to accept stringent reductions in nitrogen pollution from a sewage treatment plant, following in the footsteps of Newmarket, which announced in December they would not appeal a similar permit.

Together, Exeter and Newmarket have taken an important first step toward tackling the issue of nitrogen pollution—a problem that is contributing to a decline in the health of the estuary. Sewage treatment plants are a major source of nitrogen pollution, especially dissolved inorganic nitrogen—the form of nitrogen of greatest concern. According to the Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership (PREP) State of Our Estuaries 2013 report, there has been a 68% average increase in this troubling form of nitrogen between 1974 and 2011. You can read PREP’s entire 2013 report by CLICKING HERE (pdf).

The most effective method for reducing nitrogen inputs to the estuary is by upgrading aging and outdated sewage treatment plants. Like Newmarket, Exeter will now begin the process of constructing a new plant that will lead to a significant reduction in nitrogen levels.

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