New Merrimack River Doc Examines Threats to Watershed
On Wednesday, the Merrimack Valley Planning Commission presented a panel discussion following a virtual showing of the documentary “The Merrimack: River at Risk.” The film was produced by the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests, a Concord, N.H., based nonprofit that focuses on land protection, reservation stewardship and advocacy. The Forest Society, as it is known, also sponsors classes and special events, which you can read about here.
“The Merrimack: River at Risk” traces the history of the river environmentally, economically and recreationally, and highlights in a concise and clear way the overlooked relationships between property development, water quality and economic opportunity. The film portrays the river as coming a long way since the days when parts of the Merrimack were an “open sewer” or when textile mills dumped excess dye into the water. However, as the title indicates, the progress that began with the passage of Clean Water Act of 1972 in is now under threat — from Combined Sewer Overflows (CSOs), human-made chemicals known as PFAS, runoff from roads and and lawns, and the difficulties of getting different regional government agencies to work together and support each other’s efforts.
Following the screening, Jack Savage, president of the Forest Society, Dave Anderson, senior director of education, and Jerry Monkman, the film’s director, took questions from the audience. Responding to a question regarding the film’s timing as it related to the pandemic, Savage joked: “We cleverly wrapped this up just as every movie theater in the world shut down.” However, he went on to note that, “COVID has made [the film’s] message all that more urgent.”
You can watch the film online here. On September 30, director Jerry Monkman will be our guest on mvm’s weekly culture and community podcast, The 495, which streams live on our Facebook page and is available via your favorite streaming platform.