DES Completes Report on New Hampshire Water Resources,
Moves Toward Preparing Water Plan
Concord, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services was joined today by state legislative leaders at a press conference to announce the completion of a wide-ranging report on the state’s water resources. The New Hampshire Water Resources Primer was prepared by DES and a group of stakeholders at the request of the Legislature’s statutory Water Resources Committee. The committee was created in 2003 and charged with studying water resources and reporting its findings and recommendations to the legislature and the governor. The Primer is the first document that covers all of the water-related topics of importance to policy makers in New Hampshire.
Regarding the Primer, Senator Jacalyn Cilley, chair of the Water Resources Committee, stated, "New Hampshire is fortunate in its abundance of high quality water resources. But we face a number of significant challenges as we plan ahead for the sustainable management of our water resources." As identified in the Primer, those challenges include population and economic growth and associated land development, climate change, aging water-related infrastructure, and a lack of data about the state’s water resources and their use.
Senator Cilley also described two other major elements that will help the Water Resources Committee move ahead with the process of developing a Water Resources Plan. The first is a survey of legislators and local elected officials regarding water resources issues, recently published by the UNH Survey Center and Weston and Sampson for DES. The second is an analytical tool for the comparison of water demand and water availability, currently being developed by N.H. Geological Survey, building on work done by U.S. Geological Survey. This tool will enable the identification of areas where water demand is expected to be greater than the available water. All three projects were made possible by a federal grant awarded to New Hampshire in 2005, and have been completed or are being performed at little to no cost to the State of New Hampshire.
Representative Judith Spang, a member of the Water Resources Committee actively involved in the development of both the Water Resources Primer and the survey, spoke to the collaboration among DES and stakeholders that went into both projects, and explained how they fit together. "Between the Primer and the Water Resources Survey, we now have a collection of critical information about water resources issues, programs, and future needs, and about the perceptions and opinions of state and local decision makers. Starting today, DES is taking this information "on the road" to hear additional points of view. DES is planning a series of public presentations and listening sessions throughout the state as the next step in the Water Plan process. I urge all legislators and members of the public interested in water resources issues to visit DES’s website to view and download these documents, and to participate in the public listening sessions, starting this month and continuing into April."
DES Commissioner Tom Burack noted that this is an opportune time for New Hampshire to take stock of its water resources and challenges, and for legislators, water resources experts, local officials, stakeholders, and the public to collectively deliberate and develop a plan to help ensure the continued stewardship of our water resources. "While the nation as a whole is taking a hard look at our infrastructure needs and considering how our economy can be reshaped in ways that can be sustained well into the future, this is the time to take additional steps to develop a long-term water plan for the state," Burack said. "With the informed participation of New Hampshire’s citizens, with the careful integration of many points of view, and with the continued leadership of its elected officials, New Hampshire can move ahead to a sustainable water resources future."
More information, including copies of the N.H. Water Resources Primer and the Water Resources Survey, and the schedule of public meetings, is available at http://des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/dwgb/wrpp/index.htm
# # #