The Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee (UMRLAC) began 1995 with an aggressive workplan consisting of key actions from its Management and Implementation Plan.
The UMRLAC, a state established local advisory committee, had identified as one of its key actions in the plan, a water quality monitoring program for the upper Merrimack River. With the enthusiasm of the committee and the experience of committee member and NH DES aquatic biologist Steve Landry, members decided to go forward with the project. The UMRLAC, like other local advisory committees, had no means of supporting a project beyond the work of its volunteers. Recognizing this, the UMRLAC, in cooperation with the Merrimack River Watershed Council (MRWC) and the NH Department of Environmental Services (NH DES,) entered into a unique cooperative agreement to monitor water quality on the upper Merrimack River. Both agencies have been assisting volunteer water quality monitoring projects by providing training and loaning equipment. The cooperative agreement between the three parties, the first of its kind, was drafted and signed and the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Project (UMMP) was born.
Initially the project includes sites from the Pemigewasset and Winnipesaukee Rivers in Franklin to the confluence of the Contoocook and Merrimack Rivers in Boscawen. The ultimate goal is to extend the project through Concord to Bow. In July of 1995, a shoreline survey was completed and seven sites chosen. From the late summer into the late fall, water samples were collected at these sites by volunteers every other week for ten weeks. The samples were processed at no charge by the Franklin Waste Water Treatment Plant. Rock baskets were also placed at each site for six to eight weeks. These wire baskets contain artificial substrate (uniformly sized and shaped rocks). During that time, macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects) colonize the rocks. The baskets are retrieved and the insects are collected and preserved. Upon identification, their quantity, health and diversity provides an accurate picture of the river’s health. Identification sessions are currently being held throughout the winter at Franklin High School. Training is provided at no charge and all are welcome to attend.
In July, the UMRLAC sponsored a canoe outing and picnic. Other committee activities included participation on the Concord Study Committee for river related planning by the city, and review of instream flow rules being developed by the NH DES as well as permit applications and other proposals affecting the river.
Plans for 1996 include continuation and expansion of the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Project. At this writing the committee has applied for a grant to purchase supplies and equipment to assure the project’s future. The UMRLAC is working with the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission to develop a model for river communities to recognize and adopt key actions of the Management and Implementation Plan in their master plans and town and city ordinances. An Adopt-a-Stream Project and nonpoint source education workshops are also slated. A river clean-up day is currently being organized and is planned for the summer.
The UMRLAC meetings are held on a rotating basis in the six represented communities. The committee meets the second Monday of each month at 7:30 PM. For more information contact Michele L. Tremblay, chair, at 796-2615 or your local representatives.