ISF River Prioritization

Additional Designated Rivers for Study

In 2018, the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services’ Instream Flow Program established that the Cold, Warner, and upper Ashuelot Rivers comprised a Priority List of the next designated rivers for Protected Instream Flow Studies.  The results of the 2018 designated river prioritization public process are summarized in the 2018 Instream Flow Program’s Prioritization of Designated River Studies document.

Studies have begun on the upper Ashuelot, Cold and Warner Rivers, with the results for the Cold River anticipated in 2021, for the Warner River in 2022, and the study of the upper Ashuelot River is beginning in 2021.

Choosing the Next Designated Rivers on which to Implement the Instream Flow Program

With the studies of the three designated rivers prioritized in 2018 underway, it is time to once again prioritize candidate designated rivers for future study from among the state’s remaining designated rivers. In accordance with Administrative Rule Env-Wq 1903, NHDES’ Instream Flow Program solicited advice regarding the next designated rivers to be studied from the Rivers Management Advisory Committee and Lakes Management Advisory Committee at their January meetings. Following these meetings, NHDES’ Instream Flow Program released the 2021 Priority List .pdf Icon , which includes three designated rivers using the following four criteria:

  • River position relative to other designated rivers.
  • Quality and location of stream flow data.
  • Development pressure within the watershed.
  • Public Interest.

The priority ranking process has identified three additional rivers as priorities for studies: the lower Ashuelot, Isinglass and Pemigewasset Rivers. Beginning during Winter 2021, NHDES has been working with stakeholders and the public to confirm these as the next rivers as priorities for protected instream flow studies. This process will include a public hearing in order to receive comments from the public.

With the release of the 2021 Priority List .pdf Icon, NHDES’ Instream flow Program will begin a public review process that will include:

  • Notification of potentially-affected dam owners and water users located on the designated rivers included on the 2021 Priority List; and
  • A Public Hearing in compliance with RSA 483:9-c, II, to be held to receive comments on the 2021 Priority List. The hearing will be held jointly with the NH Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and the NH House of Representatives Resources, Recreation and Development Committee. In order to accommodate other legislative priorities during 2021, this step of the process has been postponed until 2022.

Progress toward establishing the 2021 Priority List will be posted on this blog page, as well as on NHDES’ Instream Flow webpage.