Department of Environmental Services

Final hearings are scheduled to start this week on Eversource's proposed Seacoast transmission line – but delays at the state Site Evaluation Committee are still possible.

The Seacoast Reliability Project power line would span 13 miles between Madbury and Portsmouth, with one mile buried beneath Little Bay between Durham and Newington. 

New Hampshire will get more than $11 million from the Environmental Protection Agency this year for drinking water infrastructure upgrades.

The state gets at least $8 million a year from the federal Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. The allocation is higher this year, despite recent cuts to the program by Congress.

NHDES

State officials gathered Thursday for an update on the drought that now covers all of Southern and Central New Hampshire.

They typically hold this meeting once a drought has persisted for several weeks. This one began in May and may spread to the whole state by fall.

The state’s last drought management working group meeting was in 2016, when drought came on more slowly than this year’s, but ended up lasting longer and being more severe.  

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services is inviting the public to tour air monitoring stations throughout the state this summer.

Air monitoring program manager Kendall Perkins demonstrated equipment use, spoke about the state-wide monitoring network, and answered questions for Laconia residents at a facility tour on Wednesday morning. 

Sven Klippel / Creative Commons

State officials say it could be weeks before they have a long-term cleanup plan after an oil spill at the Omni Mount Washington Hotel.

The spill of heavy, number-6 heating oil happened in June, near one of the hotel's boilers.

State waste management director Mike Wimsatt says the fuel, also known as bunker oil, may have been soaking into the ground there for some time without the hotel's knowledge.

NHDES

The state Department of Environmental Services wants to make its beach safety advisories more timely and accurate this summer.

As of midday Friday, DES had advisories posted for at least eight New Hampshire lakes.

Joe Shlabotnik/flickr

The state says it wants to propose new limits on certain industrial chemicals in drinking water by the start of next year.

It comes after this week's big regional summit on the chemicals, known collectively as PFAS.

At the meeting, New Hampshire residents called for state and federal agencies to manage PFAS contamination more aggressively.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

New Englanders had a chance to speak out this week about what they want to see in new Environmental Protection Agency rules for industrial chemicals in drinking water – but residents say the proof that they were heard will be in what the regulators do next.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

Some Seacoast residents were unhappy Thursday night to hear state and federal officials reiterate they don’t believe the Coakley Landfill is contaminating area drinking water.

Authorities say some groundwater wells around the Superfund site in North Hampton do show high levels of suspected carcinogens called PFCs – but they say the chemicals haven’t spread to private wells.

Grungetextures.com / Darren Hester/ Flickr CC

State lawmakers may take a closer look at giving New Hampshire control of its own storm water permits, now managed by the federal government.

New Hampshire is one of four states where the Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of storm water regulations.

Sam Evans-Brown / NHPR

Federal and state agencies will act out an oil spill response scenario in Portsmouth on Thursday as part of a federal requirement to practice for a real-life crisis.

This year's drill imagines a winter storm damaging part of the local Irving Oil facility overnight, causing a large amount of oil to spill into the Piscataqua River.

Eversource

The Department of Environmental Services has finished a long-awaited report on a Seacoast power line proposal from Eversource.

The DES is recommending the state Site Evaluation Committee approve the 13-mile reliability project – with conditions.

Those center on the potential water quality and sediment effects of Eversource’s plan to bury nearly a mile of cable under Little Bay, between Durham and Newington.

Before the state decides whether to permit the project, DES wants Eversource to test its proposed method, which involves blowing a trench across the bay bottom.

Via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/7MMKBg

Merrimack residents will vote this month on giving the town control of their water utility.

It comes after two years of struggle with contamination in local wells, likely stemming from local plastics-maker Saint Gobain.

Laurene Allen co-founded Merrimack Citizens for Clean Water, and says the local public water company's board hasn't been transparent about its dealings with the polluter.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state Department of Environmental Services is on the road this week and next, taking feedback on a complex draft of new rules for development around wetlands.

This is the first total rewrite of the state wetlands code since the 1990s, and it's been in the works since 2014.

DES says its goal is to speed up the permitting process for lower-impact projects and make everything clearer. The proposed rules for tidal areas also account for climate change and sea level rise.

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The state starts taking public input this week on new rules to protect wetlands from construction and other impacts.

It's the first complete overhaul of the state wetlands code since 1991.

Department of Environmental Services spokesman Jim Martin says the agency has been working on it for years, with help from others:

“Loggers, foresters, conservation commissions, wetland scientists and so forth – these are people that work and deal with wetlands rules and regulations on probably almost a daily basis,” Martin says.

Annie Ropeik / NHPR

The state commission on the Seacoast’s high cancer rates signaled Friday it would push for cleanup at Coakley Landfill, despite objections from the Environmental Protection Agency.

The legislators and public representatives who make up the Cancer Cluster Investigation Commission have a report due this fall on what's driving those cancer rates, and they’ve honed in on the EPA’s Coakley Landfill Superfund site as a likely culprit.

Representative Charles McMahon, a Republican from Windham, chairs the commission.  

Pixabay

Legislators are considering sharply lowering how much arsenic New Hampshire allows in drinking water – but regulators said in a committee hearing Wednesday it'd be easier said than done.

Right now, New Hampshire uses the federal arsenic limit of 10 parts per billion in drinking water.

Wikimedia Commons

Bedford lawmakers are urging Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics to connect properties with contaminated wells to a municipal water system.

Bedford residents are still using bottled water 18 months after finding out their private wells are contaminated with PFOA.

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services requested Saint-Gobain put in place a public water treatment system for the affected properties in April 2016.

josh rogers/nhpr

Peter Kujawski, Governor Sununu's pick to be the state’s top environmental regulator, faced questions about his background during his confirmation hearing Wednesday.  

Via LondonderryTrails.org

The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services has awarded funding of $2.4 million for 20 projects protecting wetlands.

Two projects, both getting $400,000, will conserve land. The first would go toward the conservation of 1,870 acres including Tower Hill pond in Hooksett and Candia. It will conserve 45 separate wetlands encompassing 280 acres, over two miles of undeveloped shoreline, forest, and other areas.

Water Contamination in N.H. Addressing PFOA

May 31, 2016
florianhuag / Flickr/CC

With new guidance from EPA on how much of the chemical is too much, and a lawsuit against the plastics plant that is its source, many Granite Staters are glad to see more action around the contamination. But others are still worried: both that the damage is already done, and that there's not enough assurance that it won't happen again.


Ceyhun (Jay) Isik / https://flic.kr/p/cG7qFL

In recent weeks, confusion and unease have increased in several New Hampshire towns where contamination with the chemical PFOA has been detected in private wells.

Though the EPA has yet to determine a safe level of PFOA in drinking water, Sarah Pillsbury, the administrator for public drinking water with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, is hoping that's about to change. 

Gloconda Beekman / Flickr/CC

After the Flint, Michigan water crisis, many around the country started taking a closer look their own water systems. And with a recent contamination scare in southern New Hampshire by the chemical PFOA  - the concerns have become local.  We'll look at the state's sources for drinking water, and the challenges to delivering it free from contaminants.

Via WeirsBeach.com

The Lakeport Dam is only about 222-feet wide and more than 60 years old, but it stands at a unique New Hampshire crossroads.

Upstream is Lake Winnipesaukee, the state’s largest lake covering more than 44½ thousands of acres of surface area and plunging to a depth of up to 212 feet.

Downstream is  the Winnipesaukee River, which travels through downtown Laconia (“The City of Lakes”) and then into Lake Winnisquam, the fourth-largest lake in New Hampshire.

New Hampshire’s program to clean up MTBE contamination is getting underway.

The Executive Council has approved funding for an Remediation Bureau, which will begin testing wells and water sources for MTBE contamination. The gasoline additive was intended to help the state address air pollution, but it was banned in 2007, years after the state began seeking damages from companies that produced and marketed gasoline with MTBE because of its effects on groundwater.

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VTDarkStar / Flickr Creative Commons

 The Department of Environmental Services has lifted the fecal bacteria advisory on Weirs Beach in Laconia.  But advisories remain in place for Bartlett Beach and Opechee Cove. 

DES Beach Program Coordinator Sonya Carlson says contrary to earlier reports, there is no evidence right now that bacteria at the Weirs could be coming from so-called “sewage sludge.” Carlson points to water samples the EPA took there last year looking for traces of pharmaceuticals.

We sit down with New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Thomas Burack.  The state’s environment has seen some hopeful trends recently, particularly when it comes to air quality. The story changes, however, when it comes to our lakes and coastal waters. We’ll get an update on what’s been working in addressing these issues, and what still needs to be done.

Guest

  • Tom Burack - New Hampshire Commissioner for Environmental Services

The Department of Environmental Services is investigating whether any air-protection measures were violated when several buildings at the Balsams were burned down as part of a renovation.

The fires took place on January 6th and destroyed a large dormitory and a second building once used to produce rubber and latex products.

Three North Country fire departments used the burn as a training exercise.

The fire also saved money for the new owners who wanted to demolish the buildings as part of a planned renovation.