EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

October 14, 2012

NH to focus on water quality issues

Conservative groups voice concern on quality

(Continued)

Gilbert isn’t spilling the contents just yet, saying it is only fair the governor learns first since this is his commission. But the report will recommend ways for the state to manage and protect water 25 years into the future, he said.

This will be a strategic plan, not one that produces specific legislation. That will be left to the state’s policy-makers, Gilbert said.

“The report will offer strategic goals with supporting recommendations,” he said. “We think it does provide a framework for that long-term vision.”

A total team effort

The commission has been meeting since May 2011. Its website shows more than 50 meetings of the commission and subcommittees.

Working with the University of New Hampshire’s Carsey Institute, the commission held five public forums in May attended by an estimated 160 people throughout the state.

Recommendations that emerged from the public through that “water conversation” included calls for regional watershed management crossing political boundaries and focusing regulation “on the common good.”

Another conclusion was water should be priced to reflect not only cost but infrastructure maintenance.

The commission’s work has raised concerns among some property owners and liberty activists about what a state water plan might mean for individuals.

There was even criticism that the commission’s listening sessions — despite being open to the public — leaned too heavily on regulators, environmentalists and businesses.

Ken Eyring of Windham, a founder of the Southern New Hampshire 9.12 liberty group, wrote the commission this summer, asking commissioners to respect the constitutional rights of New Hampshire residents.

“Water is an essential element for life. I am deeply disturbed that your commission assumes the state must usurp my property rights to take control of my well water on my property,” Eyring wrote. “Regulation of my well water translates into a direct regulation of my liberty.”

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