364 Acres Conserved to Protect Drinking Water

June 22, 2024

The Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund (DWGTF) Advisory Commission awarded $1.5 million to six projects this year through the NHDES Source Water Protection (SWP) grant program. These six projects will protect public drinking water sources on the Contoocook River, the Connecticut River, the Bellamy Reservoir, the Saco River Valley Aquifer, and municipal wells.

Three people walking through ferns in a forest.
Conservationists tour an intact silver maple floodplain forest in Northumberland. From left to right: Rich Cook, Elizabeth Bergquist, Ben Engel.

In total, 364 acres of lands protecting community drinking water sources will be conserved thanks to the generosity of landowners and the collaboration between land trusts, municipalities and public water suppliers.  

Every applicant to the SWP grant program this year built upon successful projects completed with grant funding from past years:  

The Monadnock Conservancy is conserving their third farm in the Connecticut River Valley. Their project to conserve the 47-acre, third generation Chickering Farm supports the agricultural community and helps protect the Connecticut River’s drinking water quality by preserving open space.  

Four people standing in a row, trees in background.
Project leaders conserving property in Hopkington. From left to right: Jeff Evans, Dave Dustin, Dijit Taylor, Rob Knight.

The Town of Hopkinton is contributing an additional 36 acres to a larger 1,665-acre parcel of land already conserved along the banks of the Contoocook River, that contributes water to Penacook Lake, the drinking water source for the City of Concord.

The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is building on its application to the SWP grant program from 2021, which conserved 459 acres in the wellhead protection area (WHPA) that contributes groundwater to the public water system wells of the towns of Northumberland and Groveton. TNC’s 2022 project will add an additional 137 acres of conserved lands.  

TNC is also protecting a 61-acre property in Kingston, which will preserve a state-designated critically rare white cedar swamp and fens ecosystem along the Powwow River. This project will connect over 900 acres of conserved lands along the Powwow River, adding wildlife connectivity and preserving cultural heritage sites.  

The Upper Saco Valley Land Trust is continuing the preservation of a seventh-generation family homestead in Conway. An additional 50 acres of the farm will be conserved, bringing the total to 100 acres. This land is located above the Saco River Valley Aquifer, which supports the communities of North Conway, Conway, Intervale, Kearsarge and Bartlett.

The City of Portsmouth is conserving 45 acres of critical property along the Bellamy Reservoir, which serves the communities of Newcastle, Greenland, Portsmouth, Madbury and Pease International Tradeport.

Six people standing beside a lake.
Project leaders and NHDES staff touring property in Madbury. From left to right: Al Pratt, Duane Hyde, Michele Roberge, Matt Taylor, Cheryl Bondi, Molly Thunberg.

“This year’s group of projects are some of the strongest, most impactful, to protecting our drinking water that I’ve reviewed in the five years this grant program has been active.” - Bernie Rousseau, Public member of the DWGTF Advisory Commission representing municipal water suppliers.

New Hampshire House Representative Bill Boyd, public member Bernie Rousseau, land trust representative Rick Russman, public member Andrea Kenter, and NHDES Health and Human Services representative Michele Roberge reviewed the six project applications and accompanied site visits to meet the landowners and project leaders. They recommended all six projects for funding to the DWGTF Advisory Commission at the Commission’s November meeting where the projects were unanimously accepted.  

Thanks to the support of the DWGTF Advisory Commission and the subcommittee members who dedicate significant time to the application review process. The SWP grant program, since its inception in 2017, has awarded over $7 million in grants and conserved 11,877 acres of lands that protect our public drinking water sources.