Lifetime Achievement: Paul Susca
Paul Susca, who retired in August 2022 from NHDES, was awarded the Environmental Merit Award by USEPA. Paul had a three-decade career in state service that left an indelible mark on state efforts to protect drinking water resources. As an administrator in the state Drinking Water and Groundwater Bureau, Paul oversaw the Source Water Protection Grant Program, the Environmental Lab Accreditation Program, state private well initiatives, an education program focused on people's relationships with water as well as compliance and enforcement activities.
Paul's approach to working with other partners has helped "move the needle" when it comes to protecting drinking water. For example, Paul was a founding architect of the Salmon Falls Collaborative, an interstate partnership nationally recognized in 2012 by the Clean Water America Alliance. This collaborative includes USEPA, NHDES, the Maine Drinking Water Program, the University of New Hampshire, watershed communities and land trusts, all of which combine resources to protect the Salmon Falls River watershed.
Paul has also been a leader in New Hampshire's effort to conserve water supply lands. In 2017 he began an effort with New Hampshire's Drinking Water and Groundwater Trust Fund Commission to create the Source Water Protection Land Grant Program. His involvement was instrumental in the Commission’s decision to allocate over $5.5 million to conserve more than 11,500 acres of critical water supply lands.
Over his career, Paul has led a series of public health-related initiatives, including adoption of a lower arsenic standard in drinking water. In 2018, the legislature asked NHDES to determine the economic costs and health benefits of a more stringent standard. Paul solicited expert opinions from USEPA and NHDES health-risk assessors and hired health economists to monetize the costs. The findings were pivotal to policymakers' decision to cut the arsenic standard in half to 5 ppb. Reduction of state standards below federal standards was unprecedented in New Hampshire and Paul's work was central to his receiving NHDES’ Employee of the Year award in 2019.