2. Quandt: Secondly, “we do not have a concrete answer as to how lowering the river will affect our natural animal habitat and our wetlands in the river.”
Selectman Ferraro's response: Regarding wetlands, the report devotes a chapter to Natural Resources. It does acknowledge the existence of a swamp oak forest that will decrease in size with dam removal. The report concludes, "In summary, it is expected that the overall effects of this alternative [dam removal] on wildlife would be minor and would be offset by the benefits of restoring upstream migration to anadromous fish species."
I would add: Additionally, the report concludes that the dam removal would have a significant net ecological benefit.
3. Selectman Quandt: "Thirdly, we have not discussed any of these issues with our neighbors, Kensington, or South Hampton or any other towns that could be harmed by us lowering the river."
The complex and comprehensive set of models of the river, which are capable of predicting, with a fairly high degree of certainty, show that the potential effects on Kensington would be negligible. There may be some effect on shallow wells, which do not draw on the deep bedrock aquifer. The primary potential effect could be ecological, with some plant community shifts in certain wetlands which cross into Kensington. But, as explained in the technical report, these changes would occur over a period of decades, would be very difficult to measure, and likely unnoticeable to anyone. The Town asked the Town of Kensington if they wanted to be involved in the study; there was no reply. While South Hampton is not in the watershed, a small portion of Hampton is within the watershed. The impacts on this portion of the watershed are essentially zero and thus were not mentioned in the report.
Frank Patterson, Exeter
Member –Exeter River Study Committee
(Editor’s Note: This letter is the first of a two-part series to address the concerns raised at a recent meeting.)