Great Bay Area Communities Sue State Over Water Quality Issues

Mar 23, 2012

A coalition of Great Bay area communities is suing the state and the Department of Environmental Services, claiming DES failed to follow proper rules when determining water quality standards in the Great Bay.

Dover, Portsmouth, Rochester, Exeter and Newmarket claim DES violated state and federal law by not conducting a formal public process when determining water quality standards in the Great Bay.

As a result, the communities say they face unnecessary multi-million dollar wastewater treatment upgrades.

At issue, is the amount of nitrogen pollution in the Bay coming from the communities’ wastewater treatment plants.

The group said DES disregarded scientific studies that show less restrictive limits on nitrogen could still protect the Estuary.

"The Coalition is deeply disappointed that NHDES and USEPA have acted in such a way as to ignore important scientific data and to block efforts to allow public participation in an open peer review that could resolve these key scientific questions," Dean Peschel, Dover's environmental consultant said in a written statement.

He says if initial EPA and DES decisions become it could have "enormous financial impact" what would "cripple us" financially for decades.

A DES spokesman says the department has just received the lawsuit and has no comment at this time.