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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Media Center

DATE: August 2, 2019
CONTACT: Robert Livingston, NHDES Watershed Management Bureau, (603) 271-3398

Baker River Water Quality Acceptable for Swimming Despite Widespread Turbidity Due to Heavy Rainfall

Concord, NH – Recent water quality testing on July 22, 2019, in the South Branch of the Baker River in the Town of Wentworth indicates that river conditions are acceptable for swimming. However, given the lack of water clarity, the swimming public should be careful in this water because objects under the water may not be visible.

Widespread turbidity (suspended silt and sediment) in the South Branch Baker River starting at the South Branch Baker River Flood Control Reservoir to the mainstem Baker River through the New Hampshire towns of Orange, Dorchester, Groton, Wentworth, Rumney and Plymouth continues as a result of the heavy rainfall experienced in the region on July 11, 2019.

Rainfall amounts of nearly 5 inches that fell in less than 5 hours contributed to heavy river bank erosion in the upper-most portions of the Baker River watershed, which mobilized a large sediment load that flowed into the flood control reservoir along River Road in Dorchester. High flow volumes through the reservoir continue to suspend this material into the river. The fine particulate nature of the sediment causes turbidity to persist for great distances downstream.

NHDES will continue to monitor conditions, however, it is expected that higher than normal turbidity levels will continue for some time, especially after rainfall events, until the river banks are able to stabilize.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

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