Protecting Water Quantity: Streamflow and Sustainability
Throughout the world, water quantity issues are becoming more urgent, with some regions lacking sufficient water supplies and others dealing with an overabundance leading to flooding. Here in our watershed, streams and rivers are prone to both low flow and flooding.
The total amount of water in the rivers and streams of the Nashua River watershed is a function of the amount of precipitation, the amount of evapotranspiration (evaporation by trees and other vegetation), the amount of water that infiltrates to the groundwater, and the amount of water that is pumped for human consumption. Groundwater is interconnected with surface water in New England, and is an important component of streamflow, especially during the hottest, driest times of the year. Daily real-time streamflow data are available from five U.S. Geological Survey gages in the Nashua River watershed. Instantaneous flow values can be obtained from the gages, as well as historical data, back to 1935 at some locations. The National Weather Service also maintains an Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service to predict precipitation and river cresting, especially during times of flooding.
The elements of nature impacting water quantity are beyond our control, but there are many human actions that also impact water quantity that can be dealt with through a good water management plan. The NRWA seeks an approach to water management that is sustainable for both human consumption and aquatic life, and has a Sustainable Water Use Policy in place to govern its decisions regarding sustainable water use. In accordance with that policy, our work seeks to address low flow and flooding, as well as river continuity, the impacts of dams and culverts on natural stream flow. We also collaborate with state officials, environmental organizations and advocacy groups to promote sustainable water policies for our watershed, and Massachusetts and New Hampshire at large.