NEW DURHAM, N.H. — A new federal water permit for a New Hampshire fish hatchery that has been accused of polluting local waterways could cut the amount of phosphorous the hatchery can discharge in half.

The permit for the Powder Mill Fish Hatchery, in New Durham, could lead to costly upgrades to the facility’s wastewater system and could be implemented as soon as 2021 if no appeals are filed in the next month, New Hampshire Public Radio report.

The new permit lowers the Environmental Protection Agency’s limit on how much phosphorous the hatchery can put in the lake from 25 to 12 parts per billion.

The hatchery is accused in a federal lawsuit by the Conservation Law Foundation of degrading the Merrymeeting River with fish waste it discharges, leading to harmful algae blooms, decreased property values and limited recreation.

The state Department of Fish & Game and Environmental Services argues that the hatchery has been in compliance with its permit that was years overdue for an update.

The state has implemented short-term changes to improve discharge including changing to lower-phosphorus fish food, moving some fish to other hatcheries, and storing waste for land application as fertilizer instead of putting it into the river.

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