Merrimack River improvements are on the way now that the Merrimack River District Commission has outlined the tasks necessary to assess the current health of the waterway and map out strategies for its future.
Issuing a formal scope of work recently, the commission — which includes environmentalists, lawmakers, sewage professionals and others — documented measurable goals for getting the river clean and healthy.
"This scope of work is essential to moving the commission forward, as we bring together experts from all along the Merrimack to address issues around pollution, including discharge from combined sewer overflows,'' said state Sen. Diana DiZoglio, who secured funding to create the commission.
DiZoglio said she looks forward to getting into what she calls the "meat and potatoes of strategic planning.'' Andover-based environmental engineering and consulting firm Brown and Caldwell developed the framework for the plan, which includes a needs assessment and look back at river studies over the last 20 years as first steps.
A steering committee and technical advisory group will also fan out across the region to consider funding opportunities and host workshops.
The Merrimack Valley Planning Commission is hopeful the work outline will be completed in four to six months. As that project moves forward, the Planning Commission is also developing a notification program that includes a mobile app to make swimmers and boaters aware of potential sewer overflow concerns.