Dover, NH, brook sees daylight, and less pollution
By Amy Miller
Just beside Glenwood Avenue and across from a shopping plaza, alongside a stereotypical miracle mile, lies an example of how Dover, NH, is way – way, way – ahead of the curve when it comes to keeping stormwater in check to control local water pollution.
This gravel wetland at the edge of the road is one of nearly a dozen systems put in place along
Dover’s Berry Brook to help divert and filter runoff from local driveways, roads and in this case giant parking lots.
City officials, including Dover Superintendent of Public Works and Utilities Bill Boulanger, got to show off their good works recently when EPA’s Regional Administrator Curt Spalding toured the area with scientists from EPA New England. The group parked in the shopping plaza, walked across Route 108 and saw the first of the many best management practices Dover has put in place to help protect the Berry Brook, the Cocheco River and ultimately the region’s 185-acre watershed and its wildlife.
“We had a most excellent tour of ecological restoration work,” reported Erik Beck, EPA environmental protection specialist who noted Dover is “leaps and bounds” ahead of the curve stormwater pollution prevention.
Boulanger along with faculty from the University of New Hampshire Stormwater Center and state environmental officials toured the region, pointing out how part of Berry Brook was “daylighted,” or removed from underground or piped systems for the first time in decades.
Berry Brook has benefitted from green infrastructure stormwater retrofits that make the waterway cleaner, and bring the flow and volume back to a more natural state. The UNH faculty talked about the work done and what it means for the watershed.
On one of the hottest days of the year, Erik concluded it was well worth the sweat to see and hear about what is being done in Dover. They saw many of the areas along the brook where tree filters, constructed wetlands and gravel pits, for instance, were helping to filter out pollution and prevent stormwater runoff from entering the waterways.
The EPA crew saw how Bill’s Dover staff circumvented barriers cities often face to green infrastructure projects, by building systems that can be maintained with existing equipment, are affordable, and include designs easily understood by city staff.
In particular, Spalding and EPA visitors saw several examples of the “Boulanginator,” Bill’s new approach to dealing with stormwater, which uses catch basins on the top layer to send stormwater down to a gravel filtration below.
The tree filters and vegetation they saw at the Horne Street Elementary School gave them look at how outreach can be accomplished. Anyone going into or out of the school cannot help but pass these systems.
Boulanger, a catalyst for reducing negative impacts of stormwater has made it his mission to use green infrastructure stormwater treatment practices. Working with the Stormwater System, he has seen more than 19 tons of sediment, 710 pounds of nitrogen and 127 pounds of phosphorus removed each year from the watershed. The non-porous cover in the watershed has dropped from 32 percent to less than 10 percent through their efforts.
Local players in Dover have taken the concept of green infrastructure and not only accepted it, but run with it.
As Erik said, “They are on the leading edge of the bell curve in incorporating green infrastructure into their stormwater pollution control and it into their day to day work on roads and maintenance.” From his point of view the best part of the visit was seeing how local folks have made the goals of protecting waterways and using green systems.
Amy Miller is on EPA New England’s office of public affairs.
For more on Berry Brook and best management practices for stormwater:
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