WATER QUALITY AND QUANTITY
Water quality along the Exeter
River is generally very good.
The river is the source of public
drinking water for Exeter, supports a
wide variety of plant and animal life, and
provides many recreational opportunities.
There are 17 named tributaries flowing
into the Exeter River and ten ponds
in the watershed.There are forty-one
dams located along the Exeter River
and its tributaries.
As a major tributary to Great Bay,
the Exeter River also plays a vital role
in maintaining the overall health of the
Bay’s environment. During the summer
months, when precipitation and ground
water levels drop, the river becomes
slow moving and vulnerable to pollution.
Water quality occasionally suffers from
excessive algal growth from nutrients
entering the water from septic systems,
fertilizers and surface run-off.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO PROTECT WATER QUALITY
Pollution problems are categorized
in general terms as originating
from either “point” or “nonpoint”
sources. Point sources are discharges
from pipes, such as those leading from
stormwater culverts and sewage treatment
plants.A nonpoint source is any
site from which polluted runoff can
occur, such as a construction site, parking
lot, pasture, or heavily fertilized lawn.
The successful control of nonpoint
source pollution relies on the cooperation
of everyone.You can make the right
choices and take the following individual
actions to protect the river’s water quality.
Shorelands – Shoreland vegetation protects
water quality by filtering pollutants
such as phosphorus and sediments from
Erosion Control – Stormwater erodes
exposed soils, washing large amounts
of sediment into the river.
- Maintain or re-establish a vegetative
buffer of native trees, shrubs, and
groundcover along the shore. A buffer
of at least 125 feet is needed to absorb
pollution and 300 feet or more is
needed to provide habitat for a
range of wildlife.
- Selectively cut and properly prune
trees to maintain a view and establish
access to the water.
Septic Systems – Septic systems can
release poorly treated or untreated
wastewater, and contaminate adjacent
surface and ground waters if not
- Stabilize exposed soils with mulch
and prevent further erosion by
planting native vegetation.
- Minimize the amount of pavement
and other impervious surfaces such
as walkways and patios. Instead use
crushed rocks or mulch so water
is absorbed into the soil rather than
running into the river.
Lawns – When too much fertilizer is
applied, grass cannot take up the nutrients
fast enough and excess phosphorous
may be washed into the river.
- Locate septic systems as far back as
possible from the river.
- Check the sludge level in your septic
tank each year and have it pumped out
every 3-5 years.
- Do not flush household chemicals into
your system.These chemicals can destroy
the necessary bacteria in the tank.
- Keep trees and heavy equipment off
the leach field.
Wetlands – Wetlands provide essential
wildlife and fish habitat, recreation and
educational opportunities, visual and
aesthetic values, and help protect water
quality and quantity.
- Minimize lawn areas and choose
low-maintenance turf grasses and
- Use the minimum amount of fertilizer
needed and apply it properly.Test your
soil to determine its pH levels and
- Limit the use of herbicides and pesticides
and choose natural alternatives.
Land Conservation – Today, there is
enormous development pressure on land
along the Exeter River. If you are interested
in ensuring that your land remains
forever undeveloped, there are steps you
can take. Private landowners typically
protect their land by means of conservation
- Avoid disturbing wetland areas and
establish and maintain vegetative
buffers between developed land and
- Do not dredge, fill or work in wetlands
without obtaining the necessary state
and local permits.
A conservation easement permanently
restricts development while allowing the
land to remain in private ownership.The
easement is recorded with the deed and
its terms are monitored by a non-profit
or governmental entity authorized to
hold easements. An easement may be
donated or sold, and there are frequently
favorable tax consequences from giving
For more information on voluntarily
protecting your land from development,
contact your local Conservation
Commission or the Exeter River Local