skip navigation
New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Land Resource Management
Complaints Filed Under Land Resources Management Programs

This page provides guidance and instructions on how to file a complaint with Land Resources Management Programs (Alteration of Terrain, Shoreland, Subsurface Systems, and Wetlands).

The Land Resources Management Programs is committed to responding to complaints as quickly and efficiently as possible. Because of the high volume of complaints received, complaints are prioritized. Prioritization is based on on-going or the potential threat to human health and the environment.

Before you decide to file a complaint, please read the following to ensure that you provide us with the best information to perform a thorough investigation of the issue.

  • What is an eligible complaint?
    In general, common specific types of complaints include:
    • Dredging or filling wetlands without a permit
    • Failed septic system or alteration of a septic system without a permit
    • Land alteration or construction (within 250 feet of the protected shoreland) without a permit
    • Large earthmoving operations (equal to or greater than 100,000 square feet in size)
    • Overland stormwater runoff (non-point source pollution)
Back to Top
  • What complaints are not addressed by the Land Resources Management Programs?
    Common types of complaints that are not addressed by Land Resources Management Programs include:
    • Burying of solid/hazardous waste: NHDES Waste Management Division (603) 271-3503
    • Discharge of water/waste from pipes: NHDES Wastewater Engineering Bureau (603) 271-2942
    • Smoke, fugitive dust, asbestos-related emissions, outdoor wood boiler emissions: NHDES Air Resources Division (603) 271- 1370
    • Swim lines, moorings, swim rafts: Department of Safety/Marine Patrol (603) 267-6453
    • Underground/aboveground petroleum storage tanks: Local Code Enforcement at the Municipal Office
    • Water quality issues (algae, bacteria, fish kills, flow issues, foam, water color, water odor): NHDES Watershed Management Bureau (603) 271-3289

    For other types of complaints that are not specifically listed, such as chemical or petroleum spills, please refer to the following webpage for other NHDES complaint forms and resources.

Back to Top
  • What activities require a permit from the Land Resources Management Programs?
    The activity you are concerned with may have been permitted by NHDES. The Land Resources Management Programs permits the activities below if they take place in wetlands or surface waters.
    • Beach construction
    • Boathouses
    • Breakwaters
    • Culvert installation, repair or replacement
    • Disturbance of a slope greater than 25% within 50 feet of a surface water
    • Disturbance of greater than 50,000 square feet of contiguous area within 250 feet of a public water
    • Docks (seasonal and permanent)
    • Earthmoving operations for industrial, commercial and residential developments, sand/gravel pits, and rock quarries
    • Timber Harvesting
    • Installation or replacement of septic systems
    • Large erosion control projects
    • Large stormwater management projects
    • Projects on land within 250 feet of certain waters subject to the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act including new construction of buildings and homes, garages/sheds, decks/patios/gazebos, vegetation/tree removal beyond certain limits, excavation with equipment
    • Retaining/rock/wooden walls
    • Subdivision of land less than 5 acres into two or more lots for any reason including sale, rent, lease, or condominium or building development
    • Work within the tidal buffer zone (100 feet landward of the highest observable tide line)
    • Trails
    • Utility inspection, maintenance and repair (electric, gas, water)
    • Watercraft lifts
Back to Top
Back to Top
  • How can I determine if the activity has been permitted?
    The activity you are considering reporting may have been permitted by local officials or the Land Resources Management Programs. You can research locally issued permits by working with a local official such as the chair of your conservation commission, code enforcement officer, or health enforcement officer. To see if the Land Resources Management Programs may have permitted the activity, use the following queries:

    If the search is unsuccessful, contact the Land Resources Management Programs regional permitting inspector for additional help with your inquiry. The regional permitting inspector can be reached by calling (603) 271-2147 and indicating the project's location by town or calling directly using the following guide. Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol

Back to Top
  • What do I do if the activity has not been permitted?
    1. Discuss the Activity with the Alleged Violator
      If feasible, try discussing the issue and the applicable regulations with the alleged violator first. Many issues are misunderstandings and may be resolved with discussion of the situation.
    2. Determine If the Activity Warrants a Valid Complaint
      Before you file, use our interactive tool to determine if the activity warrants a valid complaint.
    3. If the Activity Warrants a Valid Complaint, Report it to the Land Resource Management Program
      Activities which do not appear to be permitted by NHDES and are not investigated by local officials can be reported to NHDES.

    The complaint form is a means for the general public and other state and federal agency personnel to report alleged violations of NH environmental laws falling under the jurisdiction of the Land Resources Management Programs.

    Due to the vast amount of complaints submitted, NHDES depends on the public to provide thorough and accurate information. NHDES will use the information to assess the potential for public health threats and environmental harm and determine if an investigation is warranted.

    It is more difficult to investigate a complaint when incomplete forms are filed. Therefore, we also ask for supporting information, including dates and times of events, complete addresses and photographs, if possible. Confidentiality is an option. If you wish to remain anonymous, please state so on the complaint form.

    Note: Please be advised that all the information provided is subject to disclosure pursuant to RSA 91-A, Access to Governmental Records and Meetings Act. If you wish to remain anonymous you should not provide your name or contact information.

    Contact Information:
    Land Resources Management Programs
    (603) 271-2147
    (603) 271-6588 (fax)

    Direct Contacts: You can contact the Land Resources Management regional compliance inspector if you choose. The compliance inspector is assigned by town. Please visit the regional compliance inspector map Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbolfor further information.

Back to Top
  • What will the Land Resources Management Programs do with my complaint once it is submitted?
    Land Resources Management Programs staff will prioritize the complaint. The highest priority complaints will be addressed first and are based on the following criteria:
    • Is there an immediate or ongoing threat to water quality? (erosion, turbidity)
    • Is there an immediate or ongoing threat to public health? (swimming area, drinking water, septic/sewer discharge)
    • Is there an immediate or ongoing threat that has the potential for irreversible harm to the environment?
    • Does the alleged violation constitute a threat to prime wetlands, an exemplary natural community, endangered or threatened species, or other valuable resources?

    Please note that if the alleged violation involves only the installation or existence of a dock for residential use, it will be assigned the lowest priority, and investigated as time and resources allow.

Back to Top
  • When will Land Resources Management Programs staff contact or visit the alleged violator or problem's source?
    If warranted, Land Resources Management Programs staff contact or visit the alleged source of the problem directly to investigate and seek resolution. If a violation of applicable rules is discovered during the complaint investigation, NHDES will take appropriate action to resolve the issue, and if warranted, proceed with formal enforcement.
Back to Top
  • Will I hear back from Land Resources Management Programs staff about my complaint?
    NHDES suggests the complainant contact the regional compliance inspector approximately two weeks after the initial complaint form is filed in order to receive an update on its status.
Back to Top



Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol Adobe Acrobat Reader format. Download a free reader from Adobe.

NH Department of Environmental Services | 29 Hazen Drive | PO Box 95 | Concord, NH 03302-0095
(603) 271-3503 | TDD Access: Relay NH 1-800-735-2964 | Hours: M-F, 8am-4pm

copyright 2017. State of New Hampshire