|Water Resources Board|
|Garret Ahlstrom - Chair||March 2024|
|Pat Bickford||March 2023|
|Eric Fiegenbaum - Secretary||March 2024|
|Giana Gelesy||March 2022|
|Janet Wall||ex officio|
A vote at the Madbury Town Meeting on March 11, 2003 established the Madbury Water Resources Board. A major reason for the establishment of this board as a component of town government is to allow for the integration and coordination of its activities with other boards. Representatives of the Planning Board, the Conservation Commission and the Board of Selectmen serve on the Water Resources Board. The Madbury Water District previously served a similar function but had limited authority as an independent organization outside town government.
The Madbury Water Resources Board is charged with the dedicated stewardship of all water resources within the Town of Madbury to the benefit of its citizens and the environment. This stewardship shall include the consideration of issues surrounding waters quantity, water quality, water rights, and water usage and shall recognize that these issues lead beyond town boundaries and require a vigilant understanding of regional relationships and concerns.
The recently updated Master Plan for the town on Madbury contains a chapter of water resources and includes a number of recommendations. These will all be reviewed and implemented as appropriate. In addition, a major activity will include supporting the efforts of watershed associations, the regional planning commission, and municipalities to coordinate water protection and management within the Bellamy and Oyster River watersheds. A regional water budget that projects supply and demand into the future is critical to sustainable water resources management in Madbury.
Water is something that most of us, particularly those of us living in New England, have always taken for granted. Some of us can even remember the cool, clear waters that came from springs on the farms or along the roadside where we grew up. However, times have changed and many of the sources of this vital commodity that we took for granted have disappeared. A ready supply of potable water will become an increasingly scare commodity both within the region and nationwide.
The Board meets on the last Tuesday of each month at 7:00 pm in the Town Hall. Citizens interested in the activities of the Board are invited to attend.
The Madbury Water District existed here from 1953 through Feb. 4, 2003, when dissolution was voted. Its original mandate under NHRSA 52:1 was "for the purpose of supplying water for domestic and fire protection purposes", which was amended in 1981, by adding "including the protection of water resources."
The MWD was a result of the development of the Pease Air Force Base, authorized by Congress in 1951. In 1952, the Madbury Town Meeting voted “against having the air base at Newington.” The entire seacoast reacted when it became known that the largest aquifer in the area was to be covered with asphalt to accommodate a runway for the air base.
The government needed to find a like water supply for Portsmouth, most of whose water came from the springs over that aquifer. Wells were sunk in the Johnson Creek area of Madbury, off Freshet Road and in the gravel areas off Pudding Hill Road, but the flow was insufficient to replace Portsmouth’s needs. In the 1960s, the Bellamy Reservoir was created.
The municipalities in the region formed a Seacoast Water Commission, authorized by legislative act, and tried in vain through 1964 to form a metropolitan water district which would be under state control.
In Madbury, John Elliott who had the largest rose greenhouses east of the Mississippi, engineered the formation of the MWD, which he served as chairman for many years; during the later years, the MWD was nearly forgotten.
In 1967, Richard Hebbard obtained permission from the PUC to use Bellamy water for the Bunker Lane Mobile Home Park. Portsmouth’s 24-inch water line runs from the treatment plant on Freshet Road, down Jenkins Road to the Emery Farm, across Route 4 at Wagon Hill Farm, under Little Bay to Newington, and hence to Portsmouth.
The MWD came alive and has been acting as a steward of our water resources. Water-testing has been done; studies were made relative to potential aquifers; cooperation with the Planning Board has been on-going.
However, following a water budget developed for the Oyster River and Bellamy River watersheds, it became obvious that the regional approach sought fifty years ago would be needed to protect and to share in a reasonable way our water resources. Hence the move to dissolution in order that the full authority of the town might be heard in the coming regional discussions of both surface and ground water.