State Seeks Input On Priority Rivers For Major Water Management Studies

Nov 26, 2018

The Souhegan River, seen in Milford, was the subject of a pilot state flow study in 2013.
Credit Mark Nozell / Flickr CC

Regulators are planning new efforts to keep the state’s rivers from running dry, and they’re taking public input on which rivers to study next.

The state’s instream flow studies will look at how much water runs through a river under different conditions – say, in drought – and at how animals, plants and people like to use that water.

The results could determine, for instance, when local dams go into service – or let water companies know when they need a back-up water source. 

“We need to manage so that everybody has a fair access to the water that they need,” says Wayne Ives with the Department of Environmental Services. “If we had a system that was big that took water from upstream of another system that needed the water, those two would be in conflict.”

An instream flow study can help prevent that, he says, while protecting the river ecosystem and preserving recreational access.

The state has already performed pilot studies on the Souhegan and Lamprey Rivers, Ives says, leading to water management plans, protected flow patterns and other improvements.

At least half a dozen of the state’s protected rivers could top the list for the next study, depending on public input. Ives says they hope to begin studying a river a year starting next spring.

The hearing on which rivers to prioritize for the next instream flow studies is Monday at 5:30 p.m. in Concord. The public can also submit written comments until Dec. 7.