A newly funded Merrimack River District Commission has outlined six tasks to address such issues as sewage running into the water.
The Commission, paid through state money secured by Sen. Diana DiZoglio, brings together sewage management professionals, environmentalists, elected officials and state agencies, charged with assessing the current health of the Merrimack River and mapping out strategies to ensure the health and safety of the Merrimack moving forward.
“This scope of work is essential to moving the commission forward, as we bring together experts from all along the Merrimack to address issues around pollution, including discharge from combined sewer overflows,” said DiZoglio. “The group has already met a couple of times to hear from experts and discuss strategy…Now that the funds have been allocated, they can get into the meat and potatoes of strategic planning.”
The work outline, expected to be completed in four to six months, was prepared by Andover-based Brown and Caldwell. It establishes a framework for decision-making and spending priorities. It consolidates pertinent information, encourages communication and supports regional objectives for communities and residents along the Merrimack.
While there have been studies of the Merrimack River in recent decades, including reports from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Environmental protection Agency and New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, there is a sense such data is difficult to access, focused on very specific issues and not helpful toward making informed decisions regarding future improvements to the river.
The Commission will operate alongside another DiZoglio and Merrimack Valley Planning Commission project, creating a $100,000 pilot program to notify swimmers and boaters of sewer overflows into the Merrimack by flagging, a mobile app and website alerts.