Shoreline Water Quality Protection Act

water

Water.

It’s the heart and soul of the Lakes Region of New Hampshire. People come from all over the world to recreate on and in the clean, clear water that makes up our lakes, ponds, and rivers. We all understand the importance of this resource and many of us count on it for our livelihoods.
In a perfect world, no one would want to despoil the quality of the water we count so dear. But, over the years through either a lack of knowledge of how certain actions impact the water quality, or a disregard for their personal actions for personal gains, the water quality in our area has been negatively impacted. Environmental issues such as acid rain have added to the problem.

One dramatic example of lack of knowledge was the dumping of treated effluent into Lake Winnisquam by the city of Laconia in the 1960’s. This action gave a dramatic example of what Nitrogen and Phosphorus can do to fertilize algae. I grew up on Lake Winnisquam, and every summer we swam in a lake covered by a thick layer of green algae that gave the lake the moniker – “pea soup pond”. Since then the dumping has stopped and Lake Winnisquam is one of the cleanest, healthiest lakes in our area. This provides a great example of how remarkably resilient these bodies of water are – if we give them the chance.

In the old days of development on the lakes, very little thought was given to how our actions could impact the quality of the water. Old lakeside septic systems were primitive at best. We didn’t think about lawn fertilizers feeding the algae. The fact that there was no room for the rainwater from the roofs to filter through the earth if we built our homes directly on the water didn’t occur to us. The silt that ran off driveways was disregarded.

The Comprehensive Shoreland Protection Act (RSA 483-B) was enacted July 1, 1994 to provide standards to protect the quality of the water in New Hampshire. It was recently amended and renamed the Shoreland Water Quality Protection Act. The entire law and all of its particulars can be accessed at:

https:/des.nh.gov/organization/divisions/water/wetlands/cspa/index.htm.

I am not a licensed land planner or a lawyer, but I have been involved in training on this law and involved in projects dealing with this regulation. There has been much concern and many questions regarding this piece of legislation and I felt it might be useful if I highlight the law in outline form. I’ll only hit some high points here. The complete legislation also deals with replacing existing structures (both conforming and nonconforming), review periods, alteration permits, the type of fertilizer you can use, and different permit processes for different size projects.

I find understanding the intent of any action or restriction is a way to make more sense of what is being required. What is the intent of this legislation? Clean water? Sure, but how? It seems to me that the object here is to use the natural filtering capability of the soil and the vegetation to “clean” rainwater and runoff of its harmful impurities before it empties into the lakes, ponds, and rivers. If I think in these terms, the intent of the regulation becomes pretty logical. Keep as big a filter as you can.
The RSA deals with all property within 250 feet of any body of water greater than 10 acres, or a major river or stream. There is a complete list of these on the DES website referenced above. The act breaks down the 250 feet into three zones – the Waterfront Buffer-50 feet from the “reference line” on the waterfront (this is where the surface elevation of that body of water, again listed on the DES website, meets the shore,), the Natural Woodland Buffer – 150 feet from the “reference line”, and the Protected Shoreland 250 feet from the “reference line”.

All primary structures must be set back at least 50 feet from the reference line. Towns may require greater setbacks. The act regulates what activity can occur in this 50 setback. Essentially this involves tree and vegetation maintenance and removal, and fertilizer and pesticide applications. Trees can be removed, but the extent of the removal is managed by a 50 x 50 foot grid and point system. The land is divided into 50 foot grids starting at the northern end of the shoreline. If the total shorefront is not divisible by 50, then the last grid would be a proportion of a full grid and assigned an appropriate portion of points. Each 50 x 50 foot grid is required to have a total of 50 points of trees and vegetation based on a scale using the diameter of the trunks of the trees at 4.5 feet up the trunk on the uphill side (the table for the scores is on the website). For example, if you had two trees that were greater than 24” in diameter in the 50 x50 foot grid, you have met the requirement and can remove the rest. Hopefully you won’t, but you can. Branches may be trimmed, pruned and thinned to the extent necessary to protect structures, maintain clearances, and provide views. You can only limb branches on the bottom half of the trees to provide views.

The next buffer at 150 feet from the reference line (the Natural Woodland Buffer) has the restriction that at least 25% of the area between 50 feet and 150 feet must be left in a natural state.

The rest of the area out to 250 feet from the reference line is the Protected Shoreline. No more than 20% of the surface area of the total lot can be made impervious without a stormwater management plan, and more than 30% being made impervious requires a professionally engineered stormwater plan.
The word “impervious” is key here. Impervious is defined as “not allowing fluid to pass through”. A standard roof on a building is “impervious” and doesn’t let water in. This would count toward the 20 to 30%. Standard pavings would also be “impervious”, but there are “pervious” paving solutions that would allow coverage of the lot if necessary, but not count towards the lot coverage figure.

If a lot was legally developed prior to July 1, 2008, and the lot has cleared areas within the waterfront buffer such as existing lawns and beaches, you are not required to replant or restore these areas and you may continue to maintain these areas.

There are many things one can do without a permit. Those are listed at: www.des.nh.gov  on the Shoreline Program Page.

Again, this is just a broad overview for general information purposes. If you have any questions, I’d be glad to help. If I don’t have an answer, I’d be glad to send you in the right direction.

 

Kim Cedarstrom is a licensed residential and commercial Realtor® at Roche Realty Group. Kim can be reached at kcedarstrom@rocherealty.com or at 603-520-6609 (cell) or (603) 279-7046 (office).

Memorial Day

Beyond the BBQ: A Symphony of Remembrance and Summer Joy in the NH Lakes Region

Memorial Day serves as the official kick-off to summer in the Lakes Region. Towns ready ...
Read More →
Welcome to New Hampshire's Lakes Region

Welcome to New Hampshire’s Lakes Region

New Hampshire’s Lakes Region is one of the most stunningly beautiful places in the United ...
Read More →
The Granite State: Top Spot for Relocation in 2024

The Granite State: Top Spot for Relocation in 2024

New Hampshire just garnered major recognition as the best state to relocate to in 2024 ...
Read More →
Real Estate Sales Insights: Lakes Region Market Update

Real Estate Sales Insights: Lakes Region Market Update

It’s hard to believe we’ve already churned through 4 months of 2024. I researched the ...
Read More →
Market Trends – Spring 2024

Market Trends – Spring 2024

As a Realtor®, I’m always paying attention to the real estate market. I’m often asked ...
Read More →
Temperance Tavern in Gilmanton Sold

The Historic Temperance Tavern in Gilmanton Sold

Gilmanton—According to Frank Roche of Roche Realty Group in Meredith, the historic Temperance Tavern in ...
Read More →
Needs and Wants When Buying a Home Balanced

Balancing Needs and Wants When Buying a Home

In the current housing market, where choices are often limited, and demand frequently outstrips supply, ...
Read More →
Only two homes for sale at South Down Shores and Long Bay on Lake Winnipesaukee pictured above

Spotlight on Homes: New Hampshire Market Analysis

At present time, there are 1,007 single-family homes for sale in New Hampshire. The median ...
Read More →
New Hampshire Ranks High in Recent Studies

New Hampshire Ranks High in Recent Studies

Every day in our industry, we see how rising home prices have made it more ...
Read More →
South Down Shores Barn Complex Transformation

South Down Shores Barn Complex Transformation

In 1981, the transformation of Laconia’s scenic South Down Farm began, converting the former 126-acre ...
Read More →
Massachusetts and New Hampshire - a Tale of Two States

Massachusetts and New Hampshire – a Tale of Two States

Most of my articles talk about housing, trends, home values, and the desirable lifestyle we ...
Read More →
Spring flowers at the Belknap Mill in Laconia, New Hampshire

Spring Trends in Lakes Region Properties

It’s been one of those winters, or should I say lack of winters, that we ...
Read More →
Sales Snapshot: The Current Highest Prices Property For Sale in The Lakes Region Is on Governor's Island for $12,998,000

Sales Snapshot: New Hampshire’s Affordability Challenge

As we spring into March and approach our busy spring selling season, I thought I’d ...
Read More →
Gunstock Mountain in Gilford, NH

Gunstock: Gem of the Lakes Region

Nestled among the stoic peaks of the Belknap Mountain range in the heart of New ...
Read More →
Roche Realty Group Announces Top Producers for 2023

Roche Realty Group Announces Top Producers for 2023

Meredith — Frank Roche, president of Roche Realty Group, announced the top five producers for the ...
Read More →
AI and the Future of Real Estate

AI and the Future of Real Estate

Imagine, if you will, looking at a mysterious picture box filled with a whole world ...
Read More →
Prices rise Broadview Condominiums originally sold to the developer for $500,000

Prices Rise Ahead of Super Bowl Sunday

We’ve got a great match coming up for this year’s Super Bowl…The 49ers vs. the ...
Read More →
Smart Moves in Condominium Ownership Samoset

Smart Moves in Condominium Ownership

Here in the Lakes Region, a good part of our residential housing inventory is in ...
Read More →
Land Sales Unveiled: New Hampshire's 2023 Market

Land Sales Unveiled: New Hampshire’s 2023 Market

New Hampshire The Granite State… true to its motto, “Live Free or Die”, which encapsulates ...
Read More →
Exploring Cash Sales Dynamics in Lakes Region Real Estate

Exploring Cash Sales Dynamics in Lakes Region Real Estate

I was at a sales meeting at Roche Realty Group the other day, and we ...
Read More →
Roche Realty Meredith

Roche Realty Group Reports Over $150 Million in Sales

               Meredith- Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, Inc., ...
Read More →
Lincoln, New Hampshire Riverwalk Resort

Lincoln, New Hampshire: From Mill Town to Ski Destination

Tucked in the heart of New Hampshire, sprawling across 131 square miles of varied terrain, ...
Read More →
Lakes Region Towns Stand Out For Their Spirit of Giving

Celebrating the Spirit of “Giving” in the Lakes Region

Nestled in the picturesque landscapes of New Hampshire, the Lakes Region stands out not only ...
Read More →
AI's Impact on the future of real estate

Real Estate’s Future: The Impact of AI

The other day, I was talking with my son Chris about the changes in the ...
Read More →
NH Lake Sales Activity - picture of lake with mountains and homes

Lakes Region Waterfront Sales 2022 vs. 2023

We’re getting near the end of the year, and I thought I would pull up ...
Read More →
Winter Snowmobile

Real Estate in a Winter Wonderland

As I drove around the other day with my kids, I was looking at some ...
Read More →
Toys for Tots Drive

Roche Realty Host Annual Toys for Tots Drive

As the holiday season approaches, Roche Realty Group is excited to announce the kickoff of ...
Read More →
Small Business Saturday New Hampshire

Small Business Saturday Living Gratefully in New Hampshire

We have so many things to be thankful for here in New Hampshire: plenty of ...
Read More →
Annie Brown Joins Roche Realty Group

Annie Brown Joins Roche Realty Group

Meredith — Frank Roche, President of Roche Realty Group, Inc., with offices in Meredith and ...
Read More →
Gunstock Mountain in Gilford, NH

Gunstock Upgrades for Winter as Real Estate Shows Resilient Growth

As the leaves of New Hampshire’s forests transition from the vibrant hues of fall to ...
Read More →
Preserving New Hampshire's Lakes

Preserving New Hampshire’s Lakes: A Community Effort

With over 250 lakes and ponds throughout New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, there are unlimited outdoor ...
Read More →
Home Inspections — The Uninspected Abode: A Spine-chilling Tale of Regret and Terror!

The Uninspected Home: A Spine-chilling Tale of Regret and Terror!

One night, not many years ago, in a quaint, somber town nestled amidst the haunting ...
Read More →
Interest Rates

Interest Rates Impacted by Treasury Yields

It looks like the national picture for housing stats has not improved in recent months; ...
Read More →
Local Housing Crisis: Challenges and Solutions

Local Housing Crisis: Challenges and Solutions

Our communities are facing a shortage of both residential and commercial properties, a scenario that’s ...
Read More →
Fall Splendor In New Hampshire

Fall Splendor in New Hampshire

New Hampshire in the fall is akin to stepping into a live canvas painting — ...
Read More →
Samoset Condominiums on Lake Winnipesaukee

Condominium Sales Surge in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region!

As we start entering October’s bright fall colors, I thought I’d take a look at ...
Read More →
Empowering your offer

Empower Your Offer in a Sizzling Real Estate Market!

As a seasoned real estate professional, I often consider the market conditions to keep myself, ...
Read More →
Reviews of New Hampshire's Lakes Region

Reviews of New Hampshire’s Lakes Region

We’ve had a great summer in New Hampshire’s Lakes Region, and we’re approaching the brilliant ...
Read More →
Waterfont Sales Activity Wolfeboro, New Hampshire

Waterfront Sales Activity in the Lakes Region

As we head into September, I have compiled data and insight into what is happening ...
Read More →
Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day Weekend in The Lakes Region

Labor Day Weekend has arrived, and the weather forecast for the Lakes Region looks fantastic, ...
Read More →
Interest Rates

The Mortgage Interest Rate Dilemma

This past week, we saw an increase in mortgage rates following a rise in bond ...
Read More →
Best State To Live In — New Hampshire at #3

New Hampshire 3rd Best State To Live In!

WalletHub just released its rankings of the best state to live in for 2023. It’s ...
Read More →
City/Town Comparison can make the research process easier

City/Town Comparison For Your Move

Some studies place moving to a new location as one of the top ten most ...
Read More →
New Hampshire Real Estate Lacks Inventory

New Hampshire Real Estate Inventory Crisis

A Multifaceted Analysis of Rising Interest Rates and Beyond New Hampshire is currently facing a ...
Read More →
Peaks of New England

Exploring the Peaks of New England

In my younger years in school, I always loved geography. Living in New Hampshire, there ...
Read More →
Climate Exodus: Insurance Companies Seeking Refuge from High-Risk Sates

Climate Exodus: Insurers’ Fleeing High-Risk States

Flooding, Forest Fires, Heat Waves, Tornados, oh my! The recent stretch of weather has certainly ...
Read More →
Real Estate News Headlines - Lakes Region NH

Real Estate Tidbits to Consider

Here are a few real estate tidbits I’ve pulled to keep you up to speed ...
Read More →
Roche Realty Group Sells out Lakeside at Paugus Bay

Roche Realty Group — 6 Months in Review

Closed sales for the first 6 months of 2023 have been impressive at Roche Realty ...
Read More →
Newfound Lake

Lakes Region Waterfront Sales Activity 6 Month Comparison

Below you will find data and insight into what is happening in sales activity on ...
Read More →
Buying Land

Buying Land in New Hampshire — Comprehensive Guide

New Hampshire, also known as the Granite State, offers a diverse landscape that includes picturesque ...
Read More →

Leave a Comment