PREP's Clean Water Champion: Candace Dolan

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 tracked down the ever-busy, ever-awesome Director of the Hodgson Brook Restoration Project, Candace Dolan. Candace has been working tirelessly on protecting and improving water quality in the Seacoast region for over 20 years. Serving on the board of the Southeast Watershed Alliance and being a vocal advocate for the Hampton-Seabrook estuary Candace’s long-term effect on our environment is nothing short of incredible. Candace has a strong belief in the power of collaboration and cooperation so she puts a lot of effort into bringing in new and varied partners on her efforts and is always inspiring new citizens and homeowners to join in the purpose, be it through installing a rain garden on their property or convincing a local business to install a tree box filter in their parking lot. If we could clone Candace, we would – she is the epitome of what it means to be a clean water champion.
CandaceDolanCandace with her car – talk about getting the word out!
PREP: How long have you been a champion for clean water?
Candace: Well to be honest the first time someone asked me to help with a water quality project I thought water quality sounded really boring but was I wrong! It has been almost 20 years and it has become more challenging every year.
PREP: How’d you get started in protecting clean water?
Candace: Back in 1995 I began helping with a citizen science group named “Great Bay Watch” .  One of my first tasks was to help NH DES with a pollution source identification study along the coast and into Great Bay. This meant getting up really early in the morning and  traipsing around the marshes and river banks locating pipes  and outfalls and collecting water  samples to be tested  for bacteria.   As a kid who grew up on Hampton / Seabrook Harbor it was the first time I had a chance to even see Great Bay and defiantly the first time I had a chance to think about water pollution being an issue. Then in 2006, I was brought in to manage the Hodgson Brook Restoration Project in Portsmouth. This small urban brook is a poster child for all that is is bad about impervious roads, parking lots and roof tops. There was an immediate and huge learning curve that came with championing changes to regulations and installing small and large scale stormwater treatment systems in established neighborhoods.  It is never dull when you are working with great people and there are a lot of great people, city staff and residents  in the city of Portsmouth.
PREP: What’s your favorite thing to do with or on water?
Candace: I love to be out off the coast on a boat as the sun comes up. The first light is so clear and bright and the day always looks so promising.  The next best thing is paddling at night through the marsh.
PREP:What’s been your proudest moment as a clean water champion?
Candace: I appreciate the way my two interests clean water and phytoplankton go hand in hand. There is evidence in some cases increases in harmful algal blooms (more commonly known as red tides) in both fresh and salt water can be related to poor water quality. We have been monitoring NH Coastal waters for  red tides since 1999 so to be able to connect adults and students to the critical importance of both and then link them together is extremely satisfying.  Two students who were volunteer phytoplankton monitors  for me during high school  are now working on their PhD’s in the field.  I believe I am as proud of them as their parents are!
PREP: What’s one simple thing you would tell somebody to do to protect the places around the Seacoast they love?
Candace: Get  engaged …learn about the issues and get involved. We need thoughtful, educated individuals who are willing to consider all sides of the issues and push for balanced solutions for all our coastal areas.
To learn more about the Hodgson Brook Restoration Project & how you can volunteer with them visit their website
Connect with them on Facebook.

PREP is part of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program, a joint program between local, state and federal agencies established under the Clean Water Act with the goal of protecting and enhancing nationally significant estuarine resources. PREP is supported in part by an EPA matching grant and is housed within the School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering at the University of New Hampshire.