Septic system regulations and their effect on land development in New Hampshire

Fletcher, Liz
Alexandra Dawson
Department of Environmental Studies
New Hampshire's state-level regulation of land subdivision and septic system installation has been characterized by a tendency to rely heavily on technical solutions, and an aversion to deny plans for unsuitable land. The land use effects of such regulation have generally been weak. Costs of development have been increased, which maybe have inhibited development on some difficult sites. The density of development in environmentally sensitive areas has been somewhat reduced, but development on unsuitable land has not been precluded. The law, RSA Chapter 149-E, could provide reasonable water quality protection, but political considerations have often interfered with its application. In the past 2 years, the regulatory situation has improved. Enforcement has been tightened and the granting of waivers has been reduced. New rules have been instituted to upgrade subdivision requirements and septic system design, license installers, and improve enforcement. It is to be hoped that this trend will continue; several aspects of the regulatory system could still be improved.

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