News Releases from Region 01
New Hampshire Organizations and Residents Recognized by EPA for Environmental Achievements
BOSTON – Five winners from New Hampshire were recognized today at the 2016 Environmental Merit Awards ceremony of the US Environmental Protection Agency's New England regional office. The environmental leaders were among three dozen recipients across New England honored for helping to improve New England's environment.
Each year EPA New England recognizes individuals and groups in the six New England states who have worked to protect or improve the region's environment in distinct ways. The merit awards, given out since 1970, honor individuals and groups who have shown particular ingenuity and commitment in their efforts.
"We are proud to honor those citizens, businesses and organizations who have gone the extra mile to help protect and preserve our region's natural resources," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England office. "These New England award winners are committed to making our towns, cities and countryside of New England healthy, vibrant places with clean air, land and water."
The Environmental Merit Awards, which are given to people who have already taken action, are awarded in the categories of individual; business (including professional organizations); local, state or federal government; and environmental, community, academia or nonprofit organization. Also, each year EPA presents lifetime achievement awards for individuals.
Robert Varney of Bow, NH, former regional administrator of EPA's New England office was given the Ira Leighton "In Service to States" annual award for his wide range of environmental achievements, including his efforts on global climate change, energy efficiency, integration of energy and environmental programs, clean air, clean water, safe drinking water, and environmental justice.
Merit Award Winners from New Hampshire listed by category are:
Enviro, Community, Academia & Nonprofit
Water Integration for Squamscott-Exeter (Exeter - Jennifer Perry; Paul Vlasich; Don Clement; Sylvia Von Aulock. Stratham - Paul Deschaine; Lincoln Daley. Newfields - Bill Meserve; Clay Mitchell; Geosyntec Consultants; Robert Roseen; Renee Bourdeau. University of New Hampshire - Alison Watts. Rockingham Planning Commission - Cliff Sinnott; Theresa Walker. Consensus Building Institute - Doug Thompson; Eric Roberts. NERRS Science Collaborative - Rich Langan; Kalle Matso. NH Department of Environmental Services - Matt Wood; GBNERR - Paul Stacey and in memory of Pete Richardson
The Water Integration for Squamscott-Exeter, or WISE, project involves communities, scientists and regulators working together to meet water quality goals. In March 2015 the WISE team developed recommendations to affordably managing permits for wastewater and stormwater in three communities – Newfields, Exeter and Stratham. The team was formed of representatives from these three NH municipalities joined by representatives from Geosyntec Consultants, the University of New Hampshire, Rockingham Planning Commission, Consensus Building Institute and the Great Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve. The project bridged information and technical gaps by working with regulators and municipal staff to develop a product that stakeholders and Towns understand and support. The project quantified the advantages of towns working together. Town leadership and trust in the process were critical for success. This plan developed by WISE is intended to serve as a guide for the three towns to support nitrogen load reduction, monitoring for water quality results, and ultimately ecosystem recovery in the Great Bay estuary.
The Squamscott River has elevated Nitrogen concentrations and has suffered a significant loss of its historical eelgrass cover. WISE leaders knew that as communities respond to Clean Water Act requirements for reducing harmful nitrogen loading from the discharge of polluted stormwater and wastewater, they would need to be innovative in finding effective and affordable means to meet water quality goals. This integrated planning approach could reduce existing nitrogen loads by 60 percent and was estimated to cut costs in half of what the costs would be with traditional, non-collaborative permitting of the three communities separately. The three neighboring towns share a history of collaboration in schools, hazardous waste management and recreation programs. Integrated Planning for nutrient management could be a logical next step. In a letter last year to the WISE team, EPA Regional Administrator Curt Spalding noted his support for this kind of coordinated approach. He said “Inter-municipal cooperation and adaptive management approaches hold promise for developing successful, more cost-effective solutions. The extension of a planning effort which includes the upper watershed communities certainly supports our objective for attaining water quality standards in (the Great Bay) Estuary.
Dover, New Hampshire
William Boulanger, Superintendent of Public Works and Utilities in Dover, NH, has been a crucial catalyst for reducing negative impacts on the Berry Brook Watershed. The goal of the Berry Brook project has been to use green infrastructure stormwater treatment practices to improve water and habitat quality in a severely degraded urban watershed. Under Boulanger's leadership, researchers at the University of New Hampshire and city staff installed stormwater controls that remove more than 19 tons of sediment, 710 pounds of nitrogen and 127 pounds of phosphorus each year from the watershed. They have reduced the non-porous cover in the watershed from 32 percent to less than 10 percent.
Boulanger's ability to seek practical solutions has helped overcome municipal barriers to green infrastructure and resulted in a greater understanding of stormwater management. When city staff were reluctant to accept green infrastructure, Boulagner addressed their concerns, coordinating with city engineers, laborers and UNH researchers to build systems that can be maintained with the existing equipment, are affordable, and include designs easily understood by city staff. Boulanager also invented a new style of green infrastructure with the water quality and volume reduction benefits of porous asphalt. The new approach was nick-named "Boulanginator." Boulanger, who has provided outstanding municipal public works service for 42 years, is a master communicator with excellent leadership skills. It is local champions like Bill Boulanger who will lead the green infrastructure wave and who will do it more economically and effectively than anyone ever imagined.
James F. Haney
Durham, New Hampshire
James Haney has spent a majority of his career studying cyanobacteria blooms in bodies of water, an increasing problem in New England and worldwide. These blooms are often caused by nutrient sources in the landscape and may result in dense scums on the water surface that can lead to toxins with implications for human and environmental health. Haney has been a key member of New England’s regional cyanobacteria monitoring and bloom watch program, which was developed to track harmful cyanobacterial blooms and monitor bloom development. His contributions have been enormous to the success of this program. He has been key in fostering collaboration between non-profit groups, citizen scientists, boards of health, state water quality scientists, water suppliers and academics. With his help, new tools are being developed to predict blooms, and approaches are improving to guide public health officials. Haney has fostered the idea of a multi-tiered participatory approach to the regional program. This program has been well received throughout New England, and is being shared nationally. Haney's willingness to share expertise and innovation freely is an example of selfless commitment to public health and the environment.
State Performance Partnership Improvement Team
NH Department of Environmental Services - Susan Carlson; Vincent Perelli; Ted Diers; Wendy Waskin; John Duclos
Maine Department of Environmental Protection - Jeff Crawford
RI Department of Environmental Management - Terry Gray
Vt. Department of Environmental Conservation - Carey Hengstenberg
Conn Department of Energy and Environmental Protection - Nicole Lugli
Mass. Department of Environmental Protection - Deneen Simpson
The State Performance Partnership Improvement Team made the concept of E-Enterprise a reality. The team used 21st century tools to streamline work plan negotiations and ultimately strengthen oversight and management of the Performance Partnership Grant progress for New England state partners. The work of the team, consisting of representatives from six states, showed that waste can be eliminated, processes streamlined and budget shortfalls tackled through partnerships and on-line cooperation.
With declining funding from EPA over the past few years, New England states needed to address budget shortfalls for environmental efforts. A request by the state of New Hampshire for help in eliminating waste through "lean" processes led to improvements and efficiencies in environmental work across New England. Ideas were generated through the "lean" events that could benefit other states. The State Performance Partnership Improvement Team seized the chance to implement changes in 2015.
Vincent Perelli of the NH Department of Environmental Services was a leader in convening all six New England states to commit to trying this new approach. The state partners worked with EPA New England to design a new SharePoint site, which served as the E-Enterprise platform to conduct real-time state work plan negotiations, provided the opportunity to spur program dialogue in a new way, and allowed codification of negotiated 2-year agreements in a single document. This was the first time EPA New England used SharePoint for this type of E-Enterprise collaboration on such a large scale with external users. This involved significant time, effort and coordination within EPA and with state information technology offices, to resolve issues as they emerged.
Despite the technical challenges of creating this new E-Enterprise approach, it has been very successful. For instance, the air program completed negotiations through SharePoint with all six states within two months, and agreement for all work plan elements were completed with three states by mid-December – significantly faster than prior years. A high level of interest has been shown nationally for using this model to improve joint strategic planning by EPA and states to save time, resources, and produce measurable environmental results.
In Service to States Award
As president of Normandeau Associates, Varney manages one of the largest science-based environmental consulting firms in the country. He was regional administrator of the New England office of the Environmental Protection Agency for more than seven years before that. During his time at EPA, he helped achieve high-profile settlements to clean up and restore the Charles River, South Boston beaches, Mt. Hope Bay, Portsmouth Harbor, and portions of the Connecticut, Merrimack, and Assabet rivers.
Before coming to EPA, Varney was for 12 years Commissioner of the NH Department of Environmental Services, where he improved internal management and successfully undertook many legislative initiatives, improved communication with the legislature, municipalities and professional groups, and was widely credited with instituting innovative approaches and policy initiatives that were national models. As New Hampshire state planning director before that, Varney led the preparation of the state’s first regional recycling plan and developed the Merrimack River Management Plan, as well as a long-range water supply plan for the growing southern tier of New Hampshire. He was a member of the NH Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy, and an Obama appointee to the Commission for Environmental Cooperation’s Joint Public Advisory Committee.
His list of memberships goes on: State/EPA Superfund Policy Forum, Federal Ozone Transport Commission, Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment, New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, and New England Governors' Conference Environment Committee. Varney's list of awards is equally impressive. He received an EPA Lifetime Achievement Award, NE Water Works Association's John H. Chafee Award, Charles River Watershed Association’s Anne Blackburn Award, the Environmental Business Council of New England’s Paul Keough Award, and the Founder’s Award of the Environmental Council of States.
This year's Environmental Merit Awards program was dedicated to the historic Paris climate agreement last year at which over 190 nations committed to universally limit global warming. The agreement is a strong starting point and promotes action over time that will protect this planet from the impacts of climate change.
In addition to the Environmental Merits, EPA New England recognized two Federal Green Challenge award winners, both from New Hampshire. The Federal Green Challenge is a national EPA initiative that challenges federal agencies to set goals and report on their achievements in the areas of waste, energy, transportation, purchasing, electronics management, and water conservation. J. Anne Pillion, coordinator of environmental management for the US Veteran Affairs in Manchester, and Julie Theroux and Cindy Mason of the US Postal Service were given these awards.
Pillion was responsible for establishing the hospital environmental management program, ensuring compliance with federal and state environmental laws and regulations, and improving waste minimization, encouraging pollution prevention methods and promoting sustainability techniques. Pillion initiated innovative, sustainable efforts at the Manchester VA and within the VA New England Healthcare network. She reduced hazardous waste by 51 percent reduction and greenhouse gas emissions by 3,491 tons of CO2 equivalents per year. She improved recycling to 54.5 percent in 2015, and turned the radiology suite into a paperless operation. Pillion has received two Federal Green Challenge awards for the VA hospital; one for initiating cleaner and water conserving micro fiber mops in the hospital, and a second for installing an underground stormwater infiltration system, which is capable of retaining and recharging 9,724 gallons of stormwater.
Theroux for 15 years has been a determined environmental change agent within the US Postal Service, promoting environmental compliance, sustainability and recycling. As program manager, she put in place the environmental management system and helped develop a series of Postmaster Environmental Compliance Guidebooks for 3,200 post offices in New England and New York. Recently, she launched a nationwide campaign to promote zero waste within the Postal Service, and distributed recycling kits to 32,000 postmasters.
Theroux also met with EPA staff during a Stormwater Management Federal Facility training and suggested that the Postal Service could host the same training. She worked with her headquarters and regional offices, with Cindy Mason, the Hinsdale, NH Postmaster, with Former State Rep. Smokey Smith, the town, and EPA for many months, leading to a stormwater training in September 2015 at the Hinsdale Postal facility, marking the first time this training was held at a US Postal. This 200-year-old facility, the oldest continuously operating post office in the U.S., now has a stormwater rain garden.
More information on EPA's Environmental Merit Awards, including photographs from the award ceremony: www.epa.gov/environmental-merit-awards-new-england