A New Hampshire lake during summer

New Hampshire 2021 Legislative Session

NH LAKES works with New Hampshire legislators, state agency staff, and partners, to submit bills that will help ensure our lakes are clean and healthy, now and in the future! While NH LAKES takes strong positions of support or opposition on some bills, we also track a large number of bills as they move through the legislative process, so we can respond if they become important to our cause. Below, you’ll learn about bills we support directly and those we choose to track.

For more information, email or call Michelle Davis, NH LAKES Advocacy Program Coordinator, at mdavis@nhlakes.org or (603) 226-0299.

Core Issues to New Hampshire’s Lakes:

House Bill 426 relative to shoreland septic systems is strongly supported by NH LAKES as an opportunity to improve water quality in New Hampshire’s lakes by identifying underperforming and uninspected septic systems. The proposed bill requires assessment at the time of sale for certain septic systems on properties within the developed waterfront. The bill would require inspection of septic systems installed prior to the state permitting process, or systems whose approval is over 20 years old, and copies would need be filed with the local health official and the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services.

House Bill 229 defining “wake boat” is a high priority for NH LAKES and defines wake boats as, “any boat that is equipped with ballast tanks, bags, compartments, containers, plumbing, or similar devices or systems that are designed to alter or enhance the characteristics of the boat’s wake, and is also known as a ‘ballast boat.’” When used in certain ways, wake (ballast) boats pose a threat to the health of New Hampshire’s lakes in the form of shoreline erosion, property damage, disturbance on the lake bottom, and the spread of aquatic invasive species.

House Bill 398 making an appropriation to New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services for the purpose of funding public water system projects. The projects that would be funded by this bill are not yet established, but updating and maintaining wastewater treatment plants is important to prevent harmful nutrients from entering New Hampshire’s surface waters. Nutrients from improperly functioning wastewater treatment systems contribute to toxic cyanobacteria blooms.

Related to Water Quality:

House Bill 115 relative to wake surfing adds the activity of “wake surfing” to existing safety legislation and comes out of consensus from the Wake Boat Study Commission. The bill requires participants to wear a life jacket and have a spotter and a few other safety provisions. Wake surfing is growing in popularity in New Hampshire and, as a relatively new activity, it is important to add it to safety regulations.

House Bill 158 relative to the definition of a prime wetland would increase the area of a wetland eligible for a prime wetland designation. The goal of this legislation is to include the “fingers and toes” of a wetland that meet certain exceptional function criteria. Wetlands help protect and improve water quality, provide wildlife habitat, and reduce the impacts of floods.

House Bill 99 relative to seasonal platforms on public waters requires that anyone seeking to anchor a floating dock, seasonal platform, inflatable platform or float on public waters of the state observe requirements specified by the New Hampshire Department of Safety. Inflatables such as large unicorns and climbing walls are growing in popularity and size on lakes and ponds in New Hampshire. NH LAKES had concerns about some elements of this bill, but supports the concept of Marine Patrol having oversight over the placement and safety of these platforms.

House Bill 177 prohibiting the siting of a landfill near a state park is a high priority for NH LAKES. The bill would prevent new landfills from being sited within two miles of any state park in New Hampshire. The bill is brought about specifically in response to a proposed landfill near Forest Lake and Forest Lake State Park in the towns of Bethlehem and Dalton, but would protect parks throughout the state. A nearby landfill could have significant detrimental water quality impacts for nearby water bodies – contaminating both surface water and groundwater.

The Conservation Community:

House Bill 82 relative to amending a conservation easement would allow landowners and the state legislature to negotiate amendments to a conservation easement. Although land conservation is not a core activity of NH LAKES, it is important to clean and healthy lakes. This bill could gut environmental protections on conserved land around lakes in New Hampshire.  Conservation easements provide landowners significant tax breaks in exchange for stewarding and conserving their land in perpetuity.

House Bill 189 relative to accessory dwelling units is attempts to allow up to three Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) on any property, regardless of zoning or size. NH LAKES is concerned that allowing additional accessory dwelling units could create additional impervious surface in the shorefront area, increasing polluted runoff, and have negative impacts on water quality. Increasing occupancy of shorefront property would also place an increased demand on septic system capacity and function. NH LAKES believes that an increase in accessory dwelling units in the shorefront area should be accompanied by appropriate treatment of polluted runoff, inspection, and, if necessary, upgrading of onsite septic systems.