Carsey Perspectives: Water Concerns Unite Citizen Activists
This study focuses on an instance of sustained local activism in which citizens in three New Hampshire communities mobilized to protect community groundwater against threats from commercial use. Beginning in 2001, despite strong citizen opposition, state-issued permits allowed a private company, USA Springs, to commence work on a large water-bottling operation that would have pumped over 400,000 gallons daily from Nottingham and Barrington. Activists fought back through state agencies and the courts, engaging in a lengthy campaign that involved petitioning, lobbying, community meetings, rallies, public protests, and a State Supreme Court case. Meanwhile, and absent an immediate threat to their own town’s water, Barnstead residents worked proactively with a public interest law firm based in Pennsylvania to develop the nation’s first local ordinance prohibiting the taking of community water by corporations. Ultimately, Nottingham and Barrington followed suit, crafting their own ordinances and joining a growing community rights movement that has taken hold in at least twelve states. After a fight that spanned more than a decade, the Nottingham and Barrington activists ultimately prevailed. The company went bankrupt, and water bottling never commenced. Although many factors—including the dedication and persistence of the activists themselves—contributed to the victory, the case suggests that local ordinances can be an effective tool for mobilizing and educating residents, encouraging deliberative dialogue around environmental and resource issues, and deterring unwanted commercial activity.
|Community, Environment, and Climate Change, New Hampshire||Community, New Hampshire, Politics and Elections, Rivers/Watersheds||Publication|
Climate Change, Sea-Level Rise, and the Vulnerable Cultural Heritage of Coastal New Hampshire
New Hampshire’s ocean coastline, though small relative to that of other states, is a place where people have lived, worked, and died for thousands of years. It is home to numerous important cultural heritage sites,1 and its identity is tied in tangible and intangible ways to centuries of marine-based ways of life.2 Tourism to the region’s remnant historic heritage sites and cultural landscapes is a key factor in coastal New Hampshire’s strong demographic, social, and economic growth. Rockingham and Strafford, the state’s two coastal counties, accounted for $104.7 million, or well over a third (37.5 percent), of the state’s meal and room tax revenue in fiscal year 2014.3
|Community, Environment, and Climate Change||Climate Change, Conservation, Environment, New Hampshire, Rivers/Watersheds||Publication|