PREP Reports & Publications


In order to assist the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (NHDES) evaluate the impact of treated wastewater effluent from Peirce Island Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) to the Lower Piscataqua River and Portsmouth Harbor a hydrographic dye study was conducted in December 2012 in Portsmouth, NH. Eight (8) shellfish cages with American oysters (Crassostrea virginica) and blue mussels (Mytilus edulis) were deployed both upstream and downstream of the Peirce Island WWTP in the Piscataqua River, Little Harbor, and the entrance of Little Bay. Eight (8) mini CTDs that monitor conductivity/salinity, temperature, and depth, and six (6) moored fluorometers, which measure dye tagged effluent from the Peirce Island WWTP were attached to the subsurface cages. A fifty (50) gallon mixture of Rhodamine WT dye and distilled water was injected into WWTP on December 11, 2012 for a half tidal cycle (approximately 12.4 hours). Additionally, boat tracking fluorometers connected with a mobile geographic information system (GIS) were used to measure dye levels on the surface in situ and in real time. Microbiological analyses of fecal coliform (FC), male-specific coliphage (MSC), Norovirus (NoV) genogroup I (GI) and genogroup II (GII), and Adenovirus (AdV) were conducted on WWTP influent and effluent composite samples collected with automated samplers to determine the WWTP efficiency in reducing indicator bacteria and viruses. Microbiological sampling and testing of oysters and mussels from the eight (8) sentinel cages was conducted to assess the impact of WWTP effluent on shellfish growing areas and growing area classifications. Prior to conducting the study, the assumption was that the FDA’s recommended minimum dilution of 1000:1was not applicable in this situation because the recommended dilution is based on a WWTP having at least secondary treatment. The microbiological findings in shellfish samples, wastewater samples from the Peirce Island WWTP, and the results of the dye study, confirm that a minimum of 1,000:1 dilution with respect to Peirce Island WWTP is currently not applicable for this WWTP. The FDA and NHDES recommend continued MSC testing of wastewater samples from the WWTP before and after the WWTP upgrade. The FDA and NHDES recommend a future field study after the WWTP upgrade in order to delineate the 1,000:1 dilution zone.


Piscataqua Region Estuaries Partnership

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