Water Access Structures and Shoreline Stabilization in Non-Tidal Areas FAQs

Providing detailed information about wetlands and shoreland regulations.

What is a water access structure?

A water access structure is an accessory structure (under RSA 483-B) without a roof or cover that, as a matter of operational necessity, is located adjacent to the shoreline because its purpose is to:

  • Provide entry to a surface water for swimming and similar water-related recreational activities other than boating; or
  • Provide a location for the direct observation of swimmers or other individuals engaged in water-related recreational activities.

The term includes beaches, decks, and patios, but does not include stairs, steps, or docking structures.


Do I need a wetlands or a shoreland permit to construct or expand a water access structure within 20 feet of the reference line?

If part or all of the water access structure is within the bank*, then a wetlands permit is required. If none of it is within RSA 482-A jurisdiction, then a shoreland permit or shoreland permit by notification would be required. However, to be permitted, the proposed water access structure must meet the definition of water access structure. If it does not, it must be located at least 20 feet landward of the reference line. For example, a patio being expanded within 20 feet of the reference line, but that does not provide a view or access to the water would not meet the definition of water access structure and could not be permitted. For more information about water access structures, please refer to the fact sheet Shoreland Accessory Structures.

*The “bank” includes the portion of the slope next to the water up the first break in slope (i.e., up to a change in the angle of the slope).

a diagram showing regulated surface waters


Can I replenish sand in my beach?

Replenishment of sand in non-tidal beaches may be allowed, but in general, must not exceed more than 10 cubic yards of sand and must not occur more frequently than once every six years. Replenishment requires wetlands permitting and must be for an existing, legal beach.


My shoreline is eroding. How do I fix it?

Most projects involving shoreline stabilization must meet specific requirements. For example, a retaining wall cannot be built for shoreline stabilization if stabilization can be achieved through the planting of vegetation. Refer to the fact sheet Shoreline Stabilization Projects in Non-Tidal Areas for more information, including permitting requirements in non-tidal areas.