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Water department speaks against chemical treatment

Milfoil treatment in Merrymeeting River raising concerns

by Tim Croes
Staff Writer - The Baysider
November 19, 2012
ALTON — The Alton Board of Selectmen held a public hearing and met with members of the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NH DES) and members of the water department to discuss the removal of milfoil along the Merrymeeting River.

The purpose of the meeting was talk about a possible study of treating the river with a herbicide called 2,4-D.

Bill Curtin, the superintendent of the water department, said that the water department is against treating the river with the chemical treatment.

Curtain expressed concern over using 2,4-D, as it was a component of Agent Orange. Other members of the water department in attendance echoed his thoughts.

Amy Smagula, a NH DES official, explained that the herbicide was only a component of Agent Orange and hasn't been shown to cause any damage to water in the past.

Members of the NH DES couldn't provide a definitive answer on use of the herbicide 2,4-D and what harm it would or wouldn't cause.

The area on the river that is being talked about is centered around a pair of wells and that is main reason that the water department is hesitant to use the chemical treatment.

Members of the board of selectmen agreed with the water department and feel that pulling is the best option to remove the milfoil.

NH DES officials estimated that a study would cost between $15,000 to $20,000, and that would only be for the study, not the implementation of the herbicide in the river.

Russ Bailey, the town administrator, felt that the cost of the study would be more in the ballpark of $25,000 to $50,000.

Curtin pointed out that if one of the wells was contaminated during treatment that the town water supply would be severely cut down.

Selectman Loring Carr expressed his feelings that the whole issue of treating the river should be a state issue, and that the town shouldn't have to spend money on treating the river.

Carr said that Lake Winnipesaukee is maintained by the state and that the Merrymeeting River feeds the lake and therefore, the state should deal with the milfoil issue.

There was some discussion about the well located near the fire department, but NH DES officials said that the well isn't up to certain standards and recommended against using it.

Tim Croes can be reached at tcroes@salmonpress.com or 569-3126

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