Staying on top of water

 Safe water doesn’t come easy.  How else to explain the crowds at an annual conference about what it takes to assure clean drinking water?

Each spring upwards of 200 water works superintendents, well water managers, hydrology consultants, emergency management directors, conservation commission people, teachers and federal and state experts from around New England show up to talk safe water in Concord, NH.

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The setting is the annual Drinking Water Source Protection Conference put on by the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services and the Concord-based American Ground Water Trust, a nonprofit with a national reach that aims to supply independent scientific perspectives on such issues as contamination.

Here’s a sampling of workshop topics at the next session, which is slated for May 16:

  •  A report about a new program that samples 500 wells in New Hampshire for more than 100 potentially harmful chemicals.

  • A presentation about a new approach to reduce in-lake loading of phosphorous, thereby reducing cyanobacteria blooms.

  • A discussion about emergency planning for when something goes wrong with a local public water supply.

  • Updates on steps to conserve land in watersheds around public water supplies.

I’ve attended more than a few of these Source Protection conferences, and I can report that the educational benefit isn’t limited to the workshops and speeches. I’ve picked up more than a few insights about water supplies at the coffee breaks and lunch sessions just by talking to other attendees.

Despite all the threats to water that come up in the formal and informal settings, the conference has an upbeat feel. It’s about solutions as much as it’s about problems; it’s about people staying on top of an immensely important topic. It’s a credit to the sponsors for putting on the show.