Managing construction and development in and around New Hampshire’s lakes, rivers, ponds and Seacoast.
Rules and regulations for waterfront development help maintain public water quality in our lakes, rivers, streams and ocean. They also support healthy vegetation buffers. Related benefits include:
- Healthier wildlife and plant populations.
- Increased monetary value of waterfront property.
- Recreation and tourism value.
- Protection of public health.
State laws regulate certain types of construction, fill, excavation or dredge activities within surface waters, banks, and the protected shoreland. Examples include, but are not limited to:
- Constructing or modifying the footprint of houses, patios, decks, driveways and other structures (within the protected shoreland).
- Installing docks, boathouses, jet ski lifts and breakwaters.
- Filling and excavating shorelines (for stabilization).
- Removing vegetation near public waters.
These regulated activities may also require one or more of the following permits:
- Shoreland Permit (Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act, RSA 483-B).
- Wetlands Permit (Fill and Dredge in Wetlands, RSA 482-A).
- Alteration of Terrain Permit (Water Pollution and Waste Disposal, RSA 485-A:17).
Find Recent Rule Updates
Rules for "accessory structures" like beaches, decks, and patios within the protected shoreland affect the construction, modification and expansion of such structures within 50 feet of the reference line. To find the latest rules updates, or to see pending changes, visit our Administrative Rules Library.
The Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act (RSA 483-B) regulates waterfront development on land. The Act establishes minimum standards for the subdivision, use and development of shorelands adjacent to the state’s public waterbodies.
Nature’s most economical and efficient stormwater purification system is a combination of native shoreland plants. As communities grow and New Hampshire’s landscape changes, the quality of our public waters depends on each of us managing the trees, shrubs and low-growing plants on our property.
Stormwater runoff is water from rain or melting snow that does not soak into the ground. When natural areas are developed to make room for neighborhoods, roads and other development, we introduce impervious surfaces, such as rooftops, roads and driveways, that change the way water flows over and through the land. These surfaces create excess stormwater runoff, which can result in flooding, stream bank erosion and reduced groundwater recharge. Runoff can also carry pollution into surface waters and contributes to over 90% of the water quality problems in New Hampshire.