The U.S. EPA is proposing a long-awaited permit to target New Hampshire's Great Bay water pollution.
Federal regulators are proposing a new way to limit water pollution from a dozen towns surrounding Great Bay.
The draft general permit from the U.S. EPA marks a big step forward in the years-long effort to clean up the degraded estuary, according to the New Hampshire Public Radio.
Under this permit, the towns that border the protected Great Bay would have to limit nitrogen pollution from their wastewater plants, as well as from storm water and septic runoff. The permit sets a target for limiting nitrogen pollution and lets the towns decide how to invest in meeting it, reported New Hampshire Public Radio.
Ted Diers, administrator of the state's Watershed Bureau, hopes this kind of permit could be a model for other watersheds around the country. The permit has monitoring and local accountability measures built in and it will likely take years to know if it is effective.
"The permit...does acknowledge that this is a really long-term problem, and it's a long-term fix,” said Diers.
These towns have spent tens of millions of dollars on this issue at their wastewater plants in recent years, according to Melissa Paly, the Great Bay Waterkeeper with the Conservation Law Foundation. Paly hopes storm water and septic runoff will also be prioritized as they become a greater threat, since climate change causes heavier, more frequent rainstorms.
“I'm hoping that this permit will push us into the next generation of cleaning up this estuary and restoring its health,” said Paly.
The permit is out for public comment until March 9, with a public hearing expected sometime before then, reported New Hampshire Public Radio.