Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) announced today that the Town of Hollis is the 2006 recipient of DES’s Source Water Protection Award. The award recognizes a water system, municipality, organization, or person for exemplary efforts to protect drinking water sources such as groundwater, reservoirs, and streams. DES is citing Hollis for its exemplary zoning ordinances to protect groundwater and surface water; as well as for its extensive protection of conservation lands and its private water supply well testing program.
According to DES Commissioner Michael Nolin, Hollis was chosen from among a short list of communities who had adopted local ordinances to protect both groundwater and streams. Those communities were identified in cooperation with the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning (OEP). Over the past year, DES and OEP collaborated to catalog the key local ordinances that help protect drinking water resources statewide.
Hollis’s Aquifer Protection Overlay Zone protects all of the town’s mapped stratified-drift aquifer areas. In this zone, thirteen high-risk land uses are prohibited, and all permitted uses must employ best management practices and meet district-specific performance standards for groundwater protection. Hollis’s Water Supply Conservation Zone further limits land use over the aquifer serving the Hollis school system to single-family residences on two-acre lots. The Town’s Wetland Conservation Zone protects a 100-foot buffer around wetlands and surface waters, and includes a significant portion of the streams and wetlands in the watershed for Pennichuck Brook, the main water supply source for Nashua and portions of the surrounding towns.
In contrast with Nashua, Hollis residents rely almost entirely on private wells. Recognizing the importance of groundwater and private wells in particular, Hollis conducted a ground water study during the past year in partnership with the New Hampshire Geological Survey (NHGS), a unit of NHDES. Citizens participated by helping NHGS locate their well records, which were used to compile information about the geology of the aquifers in Hollis. Participants also collected samples from their wells during a coordinated sampling effort, and paid for the enhanced analysis that was arranged by NHGS. The results gave new insights into groundwater quality issues such as arsenic and road salt, and now Hollis has one of the most comprehensive groundwater water quality databases of any town in New Hampshire.
DES will formally present the award this morning at its annual Source Water Protection Workshop at DES headquarters in Concord.