Protecting Water Resources

Protect water quality in my community

New Hampshire’s water resources provide numerous public benefits to both residents and visitors. Water quality is an issue that gets people's attention. In survey after survey, concerned citizens state that maintaining clean and safe water for drinking, recreation and businesses is of paramount importance. Conservation commissions in New Hampshire have chosen to approach this goal in many ways.  Educating the public about the importance of protecting our wetlands and drinking water sources through land conservation projects and local regulations. Commissions often work closely with local lake associations and NH Department of Environmental Services as volunteers with Volunteer Lake Assessment Program and the River Assessment Program. Identifying water resources like high value wetlands, drinking water sources and aquafers in your Natural Resource Inventory is the first step in education and protection.

Protect wetlands

Wetlands are an important part of New Hampshire's environment and play crucial roles including maintaining water quality, providing habitat for many plants and animals, providing flood storage, and filtering sediments and excess nutrients from groundwater. Wetlands also provide us with numerous recreational activities such as hunting, fishing, bird and wildlife viewing, and canoeing. No part of our landscape provides so many benefits at so little cost to the public.

Only a conservation commission has the power to “intervene”, or provide comments on an application to the NH Wetlands Bureau to allow for local review of the proposal. A conservation commission should, but is not required to, participate in the fill and dredge permit process. Bear in mind that Wetlands Bureau staff is familiar with many, but not all, NH wetlands. If a commission does not look at the site of a proposed project, it may not be inspected.

The three most commonly used permit applications by the State of New Hampshire, Department of Environmental Services (DES) are the Permit-By-Notification (PBN) Application, the Minimum Impact Expedited (EXP) Application and the Standard Dredge and Fill Application, each with its own filing process and timetable.

Before you get started, review RSA 482-A so that you are familiar with the state laws regulating Fill and Dredge in Wetlands. You can find more information on the permitting process in the NH DES Wetlands Rules CHAPTER Env-Wt 300 PERMITS AND OTHER AUTHORIZATIONS; CONDITIONS APPLICABLE TO ALL WORK IN JURISDICTIONAL AREAS.