Exeter, NH – The Exeter River Study Committee, made up of representatives from the town of Exeter and other agencies and groups, has released a report outlining the background, partner roles and accomplishments of four inter-related projects coined the Exeter River Watershed Program. The report comes approximately a year after two public information sessions were held on the Exeter River Study and a public hearing was held on the Lake Level Investigation Study, two of the projects discussed in the report.
Major highlights in the summary include a discussion of the consultant’s findings in the Exeter River Study, which looks at water quality and quantity in and around Great Dam. This information will also contribute to the Lake Level Investigation, which examines the level at of the impoundment that can be set based on weather conditions, the need for water supply, the flooding concerns around the impoundment, and wildlife impacts.
For years, degrading water quality, declining fish populations, and other issues possibly related to the Great Dam have been steadily building on one another. The Exeter River Watershed Program goal is to develop management plans that bring together science and policy to address these multiple issues. This is important because looking at them individually could actually result in making one or more of them worse, according to Ted Diers, of the New Hampshire Coastal Program at the Department of Environmental Services.
"The real challenge is to find a solution that will increase the safety of the dam, control flooding, address the water quality of the Exeter River and provide enough water for both humans and fish. I am quite impressed at the leadership of the town taking such a comprehensive approach to this project," said Diers.
Although the initial focus of the Exeter Watershed Program is the Great Dam, a larger, more comprehensive watershed approach is planned. These program components, the Exeter River Watershed Restoration Plan and Biomonitoring Study, are also discussed in the report.
"We hope that this joint effort will become part of a watershed-wide management program for the entire Exeter River, where all of the towns can work together to protect and use the river effectively," said Lionel Ingram, Exeter River Study Committee Chair.
Project partners, including Department of Environmental Services, including the Coastal Program, Watershed Assistance Section and Dam Bureau, New Hampshire Fish and Game, town of Exeter, Exeter River Study Committee, Exeter River Local Advisory Committee, and Rockingham Planning Commission have all contributed money and staff expertise to the projects.
The program summary report is available at the Exeter Town Library and Town Hall, as well as the town web site (http://town.exeter.nh.us/NewPublications.cfm).