PREP’s Clean Water Champion
Dave Cedarholm – Former Town Engineer for Durham
PREP’s Clean Water Champion is a monthly feature that
profiles people and partners working to make a difference around our watershed.
This month we are featuring a true clean water champion who has been working for the Town of Durham for the past 9 years, until just last month when he accepted a position with Tighe and Bond in Portsmouth, NH. Dave has been a champion for Great Bay and the Oyster River Watershed in his position as Town Engineer and always engaging and interested in unique and innovative ways to help control nitrogen and to help UNH students as they study water management. Famously, he was a big champion of the “Pee Bus
“. Under Dave’s tenure Durham engaged in innovative adaptive management of stormwater, installing rain gardens and other LID innovations
across town. Dave was the chair of the NH State Stormwater Study Commission under HB1295, and is currently serving as Chair of the Select Board in Lee, NH where he lives with his family. Dave’s enthusiasm and positive nature will be missed around Durham but we know he’s up to great things!
Dave enjoying Great Bay in his 68 year old daysailer.
PREP: How long have you been a champion for clean water?
Dave: I became interested in environmental issues and in particular those related to water quality in 1970 when I took part in an Earth Day recycling drive at my local elementary school. It was an opportunity to witness first-hand what can be accomplished when community members work together on a common goal.
PREP: How’d you get started in protecting clean water?
Dave: Growing up in New York’s Hudson Valley in the 1960’s it was common knowledge that because of extremely poor water quality you didn’t dare swim or wade in the waters of the Hudson River. Shortly after that first Earth Day, I learned of Pete Seeger and how his Sloop Clearwater project was aimed at cleaning up the Hudson River by educating people and drawing attention to the river’s water quality problems. This seemed like such an impossible task; however, by the time I entered college in the late 1970’s it became apparent that Pete Seeger’s efforts and the Clearwater’s ability to connect with people was actually working. Although the lower Hudson River still has a ways to go, many parts of the lower Hudson are now clean enough for swimming. The Clearwater’s approach to educating the Hudson River Valley residents about the importance of clean water locally has also succeeded in broadcasting the same message way beyond the Hudson River Watershed. The Clearwater is a flagship of the phrase “think globally, act locally”, and has since inspired hundreds of coastal communities globally to launch their own environmental flagships to educate people about the importance of clean water. Examples are the schooner Sultana on the Chesapeake Bay, and the Great Bays’s gundalows Captain Edward H. Adams and the recently launched Piscataqua.
PREP: What’s your favorite thing to do with or on water?
Dave: Sailing my 68 year old day sailor on the waters of the Great Bay! By the way, we continue to see new spreads of macro-algae blanketing many areas of mud flats across of Great Bay and Little Bay that were not there just a few years ago.
PREP:What’s been your proudest moment as a clean water champion?
Dave: Standing beside Governor John Lynch while he signed the legislation establishing the Southeast Watershed Alliance and being recognized for my contribution when the Governor presented me with the pen he used to put his signature to the document.
PREP: What’s one simple thing you would tell somebody to do to protect the places around the state of NH they love?
Dave: This is a tough question, because the average person might have difficultly believing that there is anything simple about protecting water resources. The bottom line is there is nothing complicated about protecting water resources and it really just requires using common sense and adopting a “don’t waste it – don’t pollute it” approach. I think the simplest thing somebody could do is first become engaged and knowledgeable about local water issues. Then, get out there and volunteer with a water advocacy organization and/or your local watershed association. Or, build a simple raingarden on your property and tell all your friends and neighbors about it!