A New Hampshire lake during summer

New Hampshire 2022 Legislative Session

The mission of NH LAKES is to keep New Hampshire’s lakes clean and healthy, now and in the future. We work with partners, promote clean water policies and responsible use, and inspire the public to care for our lakes. NH LAKES’ core issues include aquatic invasive species prevention and management, polluted runoff water management, shoreland and wetland protection, and responsible use of public waters.

Through our 29+ year history of advocating for New Hampshire’s 1,000 lakes—including your favorite lake(s)—NH LAKES has helped to initiate, enhance, and refine several state laws and public policies for clean and healthy lakes. This has only been possible with YOUR guidance, support, and action.

Nearly 1,000 bills have been proposed for the 2022 New Hampshire Legislative Session. Below is a list of just some of the many bills NH LAKES is tracking this session. To read more about the legislation described below, click here.

Our lakes need YOUR support at the State House. If you would like follow up information on any of the topics discussed, or are willing to take action for our lakes, email or call Michelle Davis Farnham, NH LAKES Policy and Advocacy Program Manager at mdavis@nhlakes.org or 603.226.0299.

Shoreland and Wetland Protection

HB 1227, relative to the definition of prime wetland, would increase the area of a wetland eligible for a prime wetland designation. Prime wetland designation helps keep lakes clean and healthy by requiring more protective setbacks for land development projects on properties with designated prime wetland areas. 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. The bill had an initial Public Hearing in the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee January 12, 2022.

HB 1418, relative to permit by notification for certain homeowner shoreland projects, would require wetlands permit-by-notification instructions and application documents to be simplified and grouped by similar projects. It would also make references clickable for the online instructions, applications, and applicable statutes. The bill had an initial Public Hearing in the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee January 19, 2022.

Polluted Runoff Water

HB 1042, requiring certain health advisory notices to be provided to renters of vacation or recreational rental units, would require information in rental agreements to include information about where to find toxic cyanobacteria bloom or E.coli alerts in an attempt to reduce visitors’ exposure to toxic cyanobacteria or fecal bacteria in New Hampshire waterbodies. The bill had an initial Public Hearing in the House Judiciary Committee January 13, 2022.

HB 1066, establishing a commission to investigate and analyze the environmental and human and animal health impacts relating to cyanobacteria blooms in New Hampshire waterbodies is an attempt to begin to address the increasing frequency of toxic cyanobacteria blooms in waterbodies throughout the state. The study commission would be made up of members from both the House of Representatives and the Senate, representatives from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Fish and Game Department, Department of Health and Human Services, as well as representatives from the scientific and veterinary communities, NH LAKES, an environmental engineering firm, and members of local lake and watershed associations. The bill had an initial Public Hearing in the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee January 12, 2022.

Responsible Use of Public Waters

HB 1071, relative to wake surfing would require a 250-foot setback for the activity of wake surfing. Wake surfing is a water sport in which a rider on a surf board rides the boat’s wake without the assistance of a tow rope. In order for the participant to surf behind the boat without being towed, wake surfing requires large, enhanced wakes—much larger than wakes required for other tow sports like waterskiing and tubing. When produced in certain areas, enhanced waves can erode shorelines and disturb lake bottom sediments—these actions can release nutrients into the water and cause toxic cyanobacteria blooms that are harmful to wildlife, swimmers, and pets. These enhanced waves can also disturb critical fish and bird nesting habitat. NH LAKES is unsure that a 250-foot setback is protective enough for lake health and is waiting for peer-reviewed wave action data to inform recommendations.

HB 1424, relative to the speed limit for water craft on Lake Winnipesaukee would remove the 45 miles per hour daytime speed limit. The speed limit of 30 miles per hour would remain in effect at night.

HB 1528, establishing a public boat access donation program for operators of non-motorized boats. This bill would establish a voluntary donation program for paddlers and other non-motorized users to support public access at New Hampshire Fish and Game Department boat ramps. Of the 135 Fish and Game boat ramps, 66 are car-top access only. The bill had an initial Public Hearing in the House Resources, Recreation and Development Committee January 12, 2022.