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About the Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative


The Salmon Falls River forms part of the border between Maine and New Hampshire, so the 330-square mile watershed is shared by 21 towns in the two states. Municipal water systems in both states use the river as a water supply source.  The Salmon Falls River is also the largest tributary to the Piscataqua-Great Bay Estuary system.  The Great Bay Estuary is a natural gem, but its water quality is considered impaired.

What's at Stake

More than 47,000 people (not including private well users) depend on the watershed for drinking water.
The Salmon Falls River and Great Bay are significant recreation resources - used for boating, fishing, wildlife watching, and hiking.  While the watershed is a critical drinking water source area for many people, it is threatened by polluted runoff resulting from population growth and the associated conversion of forested land to developed areas. 

A recently published report by the U.S. Forest Service, "Private Forests, Public Benefits," identified the Piscataqua-Salmon Falls watershed as the most threatened in the Northeast and Midwest United States with regard to a potential decline in water quality due to conversion of private forested lands to housing.

Who we are  

The Salmon Falls Watershed Collaborative brings together a number of groups and individuals who are doing great work in the watershed. We all have common interests in protecting land and water. There is a core group active in planning and coordinating the Collaborative's activities, a larger circle of about 30 active participants, and about 140 subscribers to our e-newsletter.

Who we serve

Municipalities, land trusts, watershed groups, water suppliers, etc.

How we work together

  • We follow a collaborative learning model as organizing principle: we are values-driven and use a data-driven approach

  • We draw inspiration from and build on each other�s achievements.

  • The Collaborative provides linkages between groups; we support each other�s work with information, coordinated planning, technical assistance, and funding.

  • We work to identify projects with related goals and develop synergies, rather than competition for resources.

  • We seek to continue to provide opportunities for existing and new members to work together in areas that contribute to our common goal, a clean, safe and sustainable water resource in the Salmon Falls Watershed.

Action Plan Guides Us - Funding Fuels Us

The Collaborative developed an Action Plan to help guide our work and address priority actions.  As part of the Action Plan, we identified areas where existing work has left gaps, and are bringing resources, like the USDA-NRCS CAP plans, to help fill those gaps.

The work of the Collaborative has built upon ongoing 319, stormwater, MS4, land trust, municipal conservation, lake association, Rural Water and other allied efforts. Without this strong foundation, there would be no Salmon Falls Collaborative.  The Collaborative itself was initially funded with seed money from the national Source Water Collaborative (EPA funds), the NH DES,and the Maine CDC Drinking Water Program. EPA Region I has provided significant staff support and connections with federal agencies such as USDA-NRCS.

Accomplishments of collaborative include

  • Winner of the 2012 United States Water Prize, a national award

  • Workshops and training

  • Walking and boat field trips - LID, land conservation, watershed restoration, etc. 

  • Monthly e-newsletter

  • Rural Water - inventory of threats & SWP template

  • Berwick, Maine - shoreline survey and GPS inventory of threats

  • LID stormwater policies in several towns

  • USDA NRCS - conservation activity plan - to develop and implement

  • Conservation plans for privately owned forest and agricultural lands

  • EPA & State Env. Agencies (ongoing) - analysis of water quality