Posted on January 19, 2021
DOVER – City officials are working on the development of an intermunicipal agreement with nearby cities and towns to share the costs of implementing the recently issued Great Bay Total Nitrogen General Permit.
The permit is designed to reduce pollution in Great Bay, one of the largest estuaries in the Northeast.
Dover City Manager Michael Joyal said the proposed fiscal agreement “will hopefully pull together a partnership of the various municipalities that will be subject to this permit.”
In particular, Joyal said, the final agreement would offer Dover and other cities required to meet the permit – like Portsmouth and Rochester – a “means for sharing some of the costs.”
The Environmental Protection Agency in November issued the Great Bay Total Nitrogen General Permit.
The permit is aimed at protecting water quality and the health of ecosystems throughout the Great Bay estuary by limiting nitrogen discharges, the EPA said at the time.
The communities that are eligible for coverage under the general permit are: Portsmouth (two facilities), Newington, Durham, Newmarket, Epping, Exeter, Newfields, Dover, Rochester, Rollinsford, Somersworth and Milton.
Under the terms of the permit, which the EPA worked with the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services to develop, 13 wastewater treatment plants in 12 New Hampshire communities will have to meet seasonal average load limits for total nitrogen designed to protect the estuary from water quality impairments due to excess nutrient loading.
In addition, the new permit requires all the municipalities to reduce non-point pollution, which includes stormwater runoff, fertilizer runoff and septic system use.
Deputy City Attorney Jennifer Perez said Dover and the other municipalities by Aug. 1 must submit a plan to the EPA to monitor water quality in the Great Bay estuary, along with ways to reduce and track nitrogen discharge into the bay.
She noted that the proposals from towns and cites “may be submitted jointly or separately.”
“This is where the intermunicipal agreement comes in,” Perez told the City Council during a recent workshop meeting.
City officials have already begun “informal conversations with the surrounding municipalities and have thus far received a very positive response,” Perez said.
The proposed agreement is “still in development,” but there have been some initial terms agreed to, Perez said.
The agreement, if ultimately approved, would begin on April 2 and run through Nov. 25, 2025, she said.
It would then be renewable for five-year terms, Perez told the council.
A key provision of the proposed intermunicipal agreement is outlining the work needed to be done and “cost sharing,” Perez said.
After the agreement start date, all municipalities would “participate in cost of monitoring, data gathering and water quality analysis,” she said.
Before the agreement could be finalized, it would have to be submitted to the state attorney general’s office for approval, Perez said.