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Local source water protection grants available

Date: September 01, 2020

NHDES offers grants to water systems, municipalities, planning commissions, county conservation districts, watershed associations, educational institutions and non-profits to protect lakes, rivers and aquifers used as sources of drinking water. Among other things, grants can be used to identify areas to protect, inventory and assess contamination risks, pay for land conservation transaction costs, and improve security systems (e.g., fencing, alarms, lighting) for public water supply sources.

Local Source Water Protection (LSWP) grants can play an important role in protecting valued drinking water sources. In 2019, the Stony Brook Cooperative in Rochester, New Hampshire received a LSWP grant to address the risks presented by aging residential heating oil tanks at a 50-and-older community, serving a population of 167 with 127 service connections. The objective was to protect wellhead areas from potential contamination due to failing fuel tanks at a system that could not afford to do so on its own. Working with Granite State Rural Water Association (GSRWA) they identified tanks with issues (e.g., in poor condition or lacking concrete slabs), ranked them as high or low risk, and addressed the high-risk tanks. The project assessed 18 sites, replaced 13 tanks with new double-walled Roth tanks with weather hoods and tie-down cables, and installed 13 concrete slabs. The community was also educated about best management practices resulting in the implementation of an annual tank inspection day.

LSWP grants can also help increase the level of protection for sources that are already protected. The City of Keene used a grant to improve security for a wellfield and pump house. The wellfield was accessible to the public and on several occasions over the past two years, staff observed unauthorized vehicles and evidence of illicit dumping in the vicinity of the wells. By constructing a security fence at main access points and gating the entrance drive, the City reduced ease of entrance to the property and potential contamination at the wells.

The 2021 application form is available online at des.nh.gov – search for Local Source Water Protection Grants. The deadline for submitting applications is November 2, 2020. Applications will be processed subject to availability of funds. For more information, contact Bess Morrison at bess.morrison@des.nh.gov or (603) 271-2950.