New England news in brief

Study seeks to identify water pollution sources in Vermont

MONTPELIER >> The Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation is seeking to find and eliminate potential sources of water pollution in the White River watershed.

The two-year study will focus on non-stormwater discharges into stormwater systems in 12 Vermont towns including Bethel, Chelsea, Randolph and Hartford.

The department has contracted Burlington-based Watershed Consulting Associates LLC to do the work. Contractors will study streams and their tributaries and municipal stormwater systems to identify possible pollutant sources. This will happen in the late spring, summer and fall of this year and next.

Permission will be sought from residents and landowners before privately owned and maintained systems are accessed.

If any pollution indicators are found, contractors will work with the town and department to resolve the issue.

Businesses, farms getting $6.8M in financing

MONTPELIER >> The Vermont Economic Development Authority has approved financing of about $6.8 million to help businesses and farms with their startup and expansion plans.

Loans totaling $2.9 million were approved through the authority's Small Business Loan Program. The biggest loan, for $500,000, went to Middlebury Pediatric Dentistry toward the construction of a new 3,300-square-foot building.

Agricultural loans totaling $2.7 million were approved.

The authority also approved $1.1 million financing through its Commercial Energy Loan Program, which helps businesses finance qualifying renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvement projects. Projects approved in North Springfield and Fair Haven will produce enough renewable electricity to power the equivalent of 166 average households and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 664 tons each year.

More than 1,000 trees planted in Vermont, New Hampshire

POMFRET >> More than 1,000 trees and shrubs have been planted along three rivers in New Hampshire and Vermont.

The Connecticut River Watershed Council and project partners planted them in Groton, Vermont and the New Hampshire towns of Haverhill, Lisbon and Orford.

The plantings include birch, willows and elderberries and stretch along nearly 4,000 feet of riverbank on the Wells, Ammonoosuc and Connecticut rivers.

The council says the shrubs and trees will help improve water quality by filtering out pollutants, reduce erosion and increase habitat for fish and wildlife.

The plantings were funded by grants from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation.

Food manufacturer to pay $949K in settlement

GREENVILLE, N.H. >> A food manufacturer has agreed to pay $949,000 to the state of New Hampshire as part of a settlement with the attorney general's office over water pollution and waste disposal allegations.

Under the settlement, the vinegar, mustard and apple juice plant in Greenville run by Pilgrim Foods will hire a team of engineers to assess the plant and its operations. Periodic reports would be made available to state officials and to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Pilgrim also will set up a continuous water quality monitoring program.

The money would go to the state's Hazardous Waste Cleanup Fund, and other funds. Pilgrim may be eligible for a credit.

Both sides agree that nothing in the settlement should be construed as an admission or denial of liability or fact by Pilgrim.

Gas prices climbing in northern New England

CONCORD, N.H. >> Gas prices have gone up a bit in northern New England.

GasBuddy surveys show the average retail price in New Hampshire is $2.24 per gallon, up nearly 7 cents in the last week.

The average price per gallon in Vermont is $2.32, up 4.4 cents from last week. In Maine, the average price per gallon is $2.34, up 4.3 cents from the week before.

The national average of $2.28 has increased about 15 cents during the last month and stands about 46 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

Decision on Northern Pass project pushed back to 2017

WHITEFIELD, N.H. >>New Hampshire regulators in charge of granting approval for the proposed Northern Pass project have pushed back their final decision date by nearly a year.

The state Site Evaluation Committee was scheduled to issue a decision on whether it would grant a certificate of site and facility in December.

The final deadline was changed to Sept. 30, 2017, at a hearing last week.

The project would bring Canadian hydropower to the New England power grid and run a 192-mile electric transmission line through New Hampshire.

State statutes say applications to build major energy facilities should be completed within one year of the application's submission, but the committee can suspend that deadline if it's doing so in the "public interest."

The project's developer, Eversource, called the decision "disappointing."

– The Associated Press


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