Beach Testing Extended in New Hampshire
September 08 2008 | Blue Water Task Force,
by Mara Dias
The New Hampshire beach monitoring program has been extended beyond the typical summer season. This important victory can be attributed to the energy and motivation of the newly formed New Hampshire Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation.
One of the first issues they tackled after forming was the lack of water quality information available to the public year-round. The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) had been monitoring public beaches for over 20 years during what they considered to be the swimming season, from Memorial Day to Labor Day. With some exception, water quality monitoring at beaches is typically limited to the summer in states along the northern and mid-Atlantic. The New Hampshire Chapter, however, has been successful in prompting their state government to do more.
The Chapter initially approached the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services with their concerns that people who swim or surf in the ocean are not provided with important information about the quality of the water throughout the year. In response, the manager of the state’s beach program was able to secure funding from an EPA grant to pay for extending the sampling program three months into the spring and three months into the fall. Surfrider volunteers are providing the work force for this program. Surfrider volunteers collect water samples weekly from 8 sampling sites at two of New Hampshire’s most popular surfing areas. Samples are delivered back to the NHDES for analysis. The NHDES also provided training to the volunteers on sampling protocol.
The first water samples were collected by the Surfrider volunteers on April 1, 2007. All swimming advisories are posted on the NHDES website.