Tracking Nitrogen Pollution in New Hampshire's Great Bay

Stretching 15 miles inland, New Hampshire’s Great Bay cuts through the heart of one of the state’s most densely populated regions. Nitrogen concentrations in the bay have increased significantly, in part due to nonpoint sources of pollution such as poorly functioning septic systems and stormwater runoff. There is concern that this pollution will help usher Great Bay toward an ecological tipping point that, once crossed, will make recovery extremely challenging and costly.

To inform science-based solutions that reduce nonpoint nitrogen and improve the health of the bay, an interdisciplinary team from the Great Bay Reserve and the University of New Hampshire investigated nitrogen “hot spots” throughout the watershed and studied the capacity of Great Bay’s tributary rivers to mitigate the impact of this pollution.