BEDFORD, N.H. — VHB is working closely with the Town of Durham, N.H., and the University of New Hampshire (UNH) on an innovative approach to reduce nitrogen discharges into the Oyster River and the larger Great Bay Estuary, and improve water quality in coastal waters. This Watershed-Based Integrated Permit approach is one of the first in New England and is receiving favorable support from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as it seeks to achieve permit compliance and improve water quality conditions in a more cost-effective manner.

The VHB-led integrated permit approach enables Durham and UNH to combine resources to identify projects in the watershed that may achieve maximum environmental benefits. By working together, the town and UNH can streamline the permitting compliance process and lower restoration costs by potentially reducing the level of treatment needed at the wastewater treatment plant and taking advantage of green infrastructure, such as rain gardens, to treat the watershed holistically.

“Durham and UNH are taking a leadership role in addressing nitrogen sources under their jurisdictions in a comprehensive manner that might serve as a regional model for other communities to follow,” said VHB Senior Water Resources Specialist and Project Manager Bill Arcieri. “We’re happy to be a part of this exciting effort that could change the way communities improve water quality.”

The project involves baseline water quality monitoring and modeling, the development of a watershed management plan, and an asset management program VHB will develop a detailed implementation plan to lay out the sequential steps needed to meet the water quality objectives for the town and UNH.