PREP's Clean Water Champion: Jamie Houle

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 caught up with James Houle from the UNH Stormwater Center. Jamie has been instrumental in bringing the extremely valuable research and work of the Stormwater Center to the communities around the Seacoast. Through on the ground projects, public presentations and interactive workshops Jamie has led the charge on green infrastructure and low impact development across the region. It is the invaluable work of Jamie and his colleagues at the UNH Stormwater Center that has put UNH and the Seacoast on the national map for innovative and groundbreaking efforts on addressing our nation’s number one pollutant – stormwater. We are so lucky to have such a phenomenal Clean Water Champion in our watershed!
Jamie Houle, UNH Stormwater Center
PREP: How long have you been a champion for clean water?
Jamie: First of all, I grew up in NH, a very water-rich environment. I also had Ms. Bodner as my 4th grade teacher who never missed a chance to demonstrate how much we rely on clean water.  It seems intuitive in that we are made of 2/3rds water but I believe the importance of water to be so simple we easily take it for granted.PREP: How’d you get started in protecting clean water?
Jamie: I grew up in NH so naturally I have had an association with water since a very young age.  I also grew up near woods and loved to “fix” the stream in the back of my house.  It was a small trickle and I would move sticks and create eddies thinking I had some idea of what served the water best.  I lived for 3 years in Ghana, West Africa and worked at developing rain harvesting systems for clean domestic water supply.  Water has always been a focus.  Most recently with the UNH Stormwater Center I have been focused on ways to treat urban runoff as a resource while securing public health and safety.

PREP: What’s your favorite thing to do with or on water?
Jamie: Water recreation is a huge part of my life.  While I grew up fishing and water skiing, water in the solid phase has made the most lasting impression on me.  Cross-country skiing and playing hockey keeps me interacting with water all year long, which I think is key to enjoying life in a northern climate.
PREP:What’s been your proudest moment as a clean water champion?
Jamie: My proudest moment with clean water happens when I interact with youth.  I find that much of the context and importance of the resource appeals naturally to the kids.  They seem to know something that we forget, that water is essential, forever and very important to the future.
PREP: What’s one simple thing you would tell somebody to do to protect the places around the Seacoast they love?
Jamie: Get a rain barrel and discover what an impressive amount of water we are surrounded by.  Find ways to keep water safely on your property.
Learn more about Jamie’s work at the UNH Stormwater Center
Want more training? Sign up for a workshop  – next one is September 19th. (PREP will even cover the cost of the workshop for any town board or committee member!)

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.