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New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services

Alteration of Terrain Bureau
Alteration of Terrain Permit

To protect surface water quality by controlling soil erosion and managing, treating, and recharging stormwater runoff from development activities.

An alteration of terrain permit is required whenever a project proposes to disturb more than 100,000 square feet of terrain (50,000 square feet if any disturbance is within the protected shoreline as defined by RSA 483-B). Or if the project disturbs any area having a 25% or steeper land slope and is within 50 feet of any surface water, then a permit is also required. The program applies to both earth moving operations, such as gravel pits, as well as industrial, commercial and residential developments.

Statute and Administrative Rules
RSA 485-A:17 Terrain Alteration
Env-Wq 1500 Alteration of Terrain

Alteration of Terrain Permit Application

Permit fee is based on the area proposed to be disturbed. See Fee Schedule.

Processing Time
The time to review an application is no more than 50 calendar days, as required by statute. At that time the application is either permitted or a request for more information letter is sent to the applicant. The applicant then has 120 days to respond to the request for more information. Once the response is received from the applicant, the department has no more than 30 days to make a decision to permit or deny the project.

For applications submitted before January 1, 2009 – The permit expires 2 years after the date of issuance and can only be extended for one 5 year term. After that time, any of the work not completed will have to come into compliance with the new Alteration of Terrain regulations.

For applications submitted after January 1, 2009 - The permit expires 5 years after the date of issuance, unless extended. Please see Env-Wq 1503.23 for more information on extending an Alteration of Terrain permit.

If there are insignificant modifications proposed for a project then the permittee does not need to notify the department.

If there are minor modifications proposed for a project then the permittee needs to request an amendment via the Alteration of Terrain Amendment Request Form.

If there are major modifications proposed for a project then the permittee needs to apply for a new permit.

For details on what types of changes are considered to be "insignificant";, "minor", and "major", please review Env-Wq 1503.21 (d), (e), and (h), respectively.

Within 10 days of a change of ownership of a project, the new owner shall notify NHDES of the change of owners using the Alteration of Terrain Amendment Request Form.

Any person aggrieved by a final decision of the Alteration of Terrain program can appeal the decision to the Water Council in accordance with Env_WC 200.

Status of Current Applications
Alteration of Terrain Permit Search

More Information
Pre-application meetings are not required; however, staff will accommodate requests to discuss proposed projects prior to submission of an application.

Contact Us
Alteration of Terrain website or contact us.



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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

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