Stormwater discharges are generally considered to be the source of the bulk of water quality impairments in the NH Seacoast. Where there are a number of state, federal and local river coalition monitoring programs that track water quality at fixed sites in tributaries and the main estuarine waters, monitoring stormwater discharges poses a set of unique challenges and is thus not presently a focus of ongoing monitoring programs. To address this critical link for improving aquatic ecosystem health in urban surface waters, the Coastal Research Volunteers and other local citizen volunteers sampled and analyzed runoff from prioritized stormwater discharges in Exeter and Greenland, NH. The primary goal of this study was to enhance education and outreach related to stormwater management for citizens in their own NH Seacoast communities. Identifying problem areas, getting citizens involved as advocates for treatment and promoting the use of effective low impact development treatment technologies are critical first steps in the process of implementing management strategies for eliminating these significant sources of pollution.
This pilot project was an overall success, demonstrating that volunteers can readily conduct storm drain monitoring and produce quality data. Significant levels of some key water pollutants were detected, like fecal-borne bacteria, chloride and nitrogen, showing how significant storm drains are as pollution sources and the need for continued monitoring. Some drains did not discharge any pollutants, or at least from among those included in this project. This is important as it can let towns know that not all drains will require pollution reduction measures. Future monitoring programs should emphasize training and QA/QC procedures because volunteer participation can provide quality data useful for more than just screening purposes. The project also showed what future similar efforts might cost. Volunteer participation clearly saves costs and allowed for significantly greater capacity to sample and take measurements at storm drains. Interest has been piqued, and it will be important to begin new monitoring efforts to provide opportunities for volunteers to continue in this type of project.
Results are detailed in the reports below: