NHDES

As promised, here’s a quick run down of Mr. Pelletier’s testimony.

Mr. Pelletier is a relatively high level official in NHDES.  He said he is in charge of “anything to do with water”.  His signature is on Wolfeboro’s 2007 groundwater discharge permit.  My recollection is that there were two significant things elicited from Mr. Pelletier.

The first is that he stated the way average monthly flow is computed for purposes of compliance with the permit is to simply divide the total flow in a month by the number of days in the month.  This is yet another different version of the intent of the permit.  During other testimony three different statements of permitted flow were identified, and in an email from Mitch Locker provided to Wright-Pierce in 2009 and forwarded to the town, it was specified quite differently.  So it will be interesting to see if Mr. Locker can reconcile these differing interpretations.

The other thing he testified to was a site visit that he was present at this past winter where he describes saturated soils and at a subsequent meeting where he was quoted as saying the “site is cooked”.  In his testimony he back-peddled a little from that characterization, claiming it was some kind of description for saturated conditions.

On cross examination he admitted that he doesn’t actually do any of the analytic work in issuing these permits and relies on his staff and the documentation provided by the professional engineers working with for applicant.

The docket shows that the court held a hearing Friday afternoon on a motion to quash a subpoena to Mr. Harry Stewart who is apparently a head-honcho at NHDES.  One of the argument when these government agencies don’t want to testify is that they should not waste the taxpayer’s money providing expert witnesses for litigants.  The litigants should hire their own experts.

Wright Pierce asked for one NHDES witness, and was denied.  Wolfeboro has four NHDES employees on their witness list and apparently NHDES is fine with that.  Makes you wonder if their policy might be politically driven.

With so much of the case centering on the 600,000 gpd average specified by NHDES, I’m wondering if that wasn’t an error on their part.  Under some of the interpretations being suggested, permitted loading could have been millions of gallons per day as part of a four week averaging.  The phase 3 report that was submitted with the permit application offered no support for high transient loading, and possibly NHDES now feels they are on the hook for not picking that up.  I’ll be curious to see what the remaining three NHDES people say.

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