Although the Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee (UMRLAC) focused largely on its citizen volunteer water quality monitoring program, it was very active in a number of other issues in the upper Merrimack River watershed.
The UMRLAC consists of representatives from Boscawen, Bow, Canterbury, Concord, Franklin and Northfield who represent a wide range of interests. This year, the Committee amended its bylaws to include the officer position of Treasurer and to allow for absentee voting. It also drafted and adopted its annual workplan. This plan includes working with a representative from the Central New Hampshire Regional Planning Commission. This representative is working with the Town of Canterbury to develop a model for upper Merrimack River communities to recognize and to adopt key actions of the UMRLAC’s Management and Implementation Plan in their master plans and town or city ordinances. The Committee continues to monitor river-related activity in the legislature and maintains a presence in the local media. Several representatives have been chosen to present and speak at a number of conferences, educational institutions, and sports and recreational groups.
As part of its state established duties under RSA 483:8-a, the Committee reviewed and commented on several river related proposals including the New Hampshire Fish & Game Department’s final phase proposal for the Sewall’s Falls access area in Concord and the Riverlands conservation area project in Canterbury. The veteran’s cemetery in Boscawen is slated for review by the Committee with a representative from the New Hampshire Department of Public Works in early 1997. Meetings have been lively and interesting with a variety of guest speakers including representatives from the Salem Conservation Commission and the NH Department of Transportation, Bureau of Railroads and Public Transportation.
The Committee’s Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program (UMMP) made great strides in its second year. The Committee applied for and received a Local Involvement Grant from the Merrimack River Initiative. In its first year, the UMMP relied solely on loaned equipment. This grant enabled the Committee to purchase equipment and supplies for ongoing and independent continuation of the Program. This funding also enabled the UMMP to be expanded from its initial seven sites from Franklin to Boscawen to a total of eleven sites extending to Garvin’s Falls in Bow. UMMP volunteers sample water at each of the sites every other week for ten weeks every summer. Water samples are processed at no charge by the Franklin Wastewater Treatment Facility. To collect more in-depth water quality data, rock baskets are also placed at each site. These baskets are colonized by macroinvertebrates (aquatic insects) and removed in six to eight weeks. After volunteers’ analysis, their quantity, health and diversity provides an accurate picture of the river’s health. All data is collected and processed using an EPA-approved Quality Assurance/Quality Control Plan. Franklin High School hosted identification sessions in the 1995/1996 season. In its second year, the UMMP looks forward to working with both Franklin High School and St. Paul’s’ School so that more area volunteers may participate. This year the Program obtained customized maps detailing aspects of features and land use in its watershed. These maps are used in workshops and presentations at conferences, schools and other local groups. Work is ongoing with the Merrimack River Watershed Council to develop a study plan and fundraising strategy for the UMMP.
Upper Merrimack River Local Advisory Committee plans for 1997 include continuation of the Upper Merrimack Monitoring Program. The Committee is actively pursuing additional funding sources for the maintenance and expansion of the Program. The Committee hopes to broaden its value as a community and educational tool. Utilizing river data and its broad base of volunteers, the Committee plans to develop a nonpoint source education program and to encourage Best Management Practices in the watershed. Additional projects include the creation of a communications package with brochures and other media to enhance water quality awareness and river stewardship.
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.