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River study seeks to help re-establish shellfish harvesting

7:19 PM, Dec 11, 2012   |    comments
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PORTSMOUTH, New Hampshire (NEWS CENTER) -- Scientists are using a special, non-toxic dye to study how outfall from wastewater treatment facilities impacts the Piscataqua River's water quality.

"We are simulating a treatment problem at the wastewater treatment facility," explained Chris Nash, shellfish program manager for the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.  "What we have been doing all morning is tracking where that dye went as the tide was flooding."

Nash, along with his counterparts from Maine and the federal government, set out in teams in small boats, equipped with instruments to help them test water quality and track their locations with GPS in computer databases.

"We are taking measurements constantly," he said.  "We are tracking what time it is, where we are, and what the fluorescence is in the water."

The information they gather will be compiled and analyzed along with data from other studies to help them determine if parts of the river are suitable for recreational harvesting of shellfish and establishing aquaculture operations.

"There is demand to be growing shellfish commercially, as well as harvesting it recreationally," he explained.  "We want to make sure we are protecting public health."

Nash says they plan on taking measurements for a couple more days, studying their findings and then doing additional tests to determine what areas should remain closed to harvesting, and other places that would be suitable for use in the future.

NEWS CENTER

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