Winnipesaukee Environmental & Community Action Network

NH Regulations

The statutes and regulations presented on this page are important for homeowners to be aware of. Under each regulation, a brief description highlighting key points is provided, for further detail, click the link provided.

New Hampshire Statutes

Town Health Officers

RSA 128:5 Town Health Officer Duties; Compensation

  • The town health officer shall enforce the public health law and rules, make sanitary investigations as may be directed by the local board of health or required by the department of health and human services.
  • The town health officer, may upon reasonable information, enter upon private property to investigate and, if necessary, take appropriate action to prevent further pollution to safeguard public health or prevent pollution of any aquifer or body of water.
  • The town health officer may receive compensation for their services which is fixed by the selectmen or town.

Nuisances; Toilets; Drains; Expectoration; Rubbish and Waste

RSA 147:1 Local Regulations

  • The health officers of towns may make regulations for the prevention and removal of nuisances, and such other regulations relating to public health.
  • Regulations shall take effect when approved by the selectmen, recorded by the town clerk, and published in a printed town newspaper or posted in 2 or more public places in town
  • Any person willfully violating such regulations shall be guilty of a violation.

RSA 147:10 Nuisances; When; Regulations

  • No privy, toilet, sink, drain, cesspool, septic tank, or the discharges from such facilities shall be erected or continued in such a place or condition as to be a nuisance or injurious to public health.

Water Pollution and Waste Disposal

RSA 485-A:36 System Installer Permit

  • No individual shall engage in the business of installing subsurface sewage or waste disposal systems without first obtaining an installer’s permit from the department.
  • The permit holder shall be responsible for installing the subsurface sewage or waste disposal system in strict accordance with the approved plan.

RSA 485-A:37 Maintenance and Operation of Subsurface Septic Systems

  • Any person who has installed or otherwise acquired a subsurface sewage or waste disposal system is required to operate and maintain said system in such a manner as to prevent a nuisance or potential health hazard due to failure of the system

RSA 485-A:38 Approval to Increase Load on a Sewage Disposal System

  •  Prior to expanding any structure or occupying an existing structure on a full-time basis resulting in an increased load on a sewage disposal system, the owner shall submit an application for approval of the sewage disposal system to the department

RSA 485-A:39 Waterfront Property Sale; Site Assessment Study

  • Prior to the purchase of any developed waterfront property which uses a septic disposal system, the owner of the property (at the owner’s expense), shall engage a permitted subsurface sewer or waste disposal system designer to perform a site assessment study to determine if the site meets the current standards for septic disposal systems.
  • The site assessment study shall include an on-site inspection and the resulting form from the inspection shall become a part of the purchase and sale agreement.

NHDES Regulations

Env-Wq 1004.18 Repair or Replacement of Existing Residential ISDS

  • If the effluent disposal area of an ISDS receiving only domestic sewage needs to be repaired or replaced, the ISDS owner shall work through a permitted designer to obtain (1) a permit by rule and (2) a construction approval and approval to operate. Any replacement shall be installed by a permitted installer.
  • Specified in RSA 485-A:35, II, an individual may prepare and submit the application if the replacement ISDS will serve the individual’s own domicile. An individual may install the replacement ISDS if it will serve the individual’s own domicile.

Env-Wq 1004.22 Expansion, Relocation, Remodeling or Replacement of Existing Structure

  • No construction approval/approval to operate from the department shall be required for the expansion, relocation, or replacement of any structure that meets the requirements of RSA 485-A:38, II-a (1) work does not increase the load on the ISDS, (2) ISDS received construction approval/approval to operate within 20 years or the date of issuance of a building permit for the proposed change / the lot is 5 acres or more in size (3) property is nonresidential (4) Proposed changes comply with the shoreland water quality protection act, RSA 483-B if applicable
  • Any expansion, relocation, or replacement of a structure that does not meet the requirements of RSA 485-A:38, II-a shall be considered new construction and therefore an application for an ISDS to serve the structure shall be submitted.
  • Expansion, relocation, or replacement is not considered new construction if (1) the ISDS serving the structure received construction approval / approval to operate from the department more than 20 years before the date of the issuance of a building permit but otherwise meets criteria (1,3,4) or the footprint of the structure will not change
  • Property in protected shoreland will not be replaced, relocated, or expanded without first determining such change will not violate RSA 483-B.

Env-Wq 1004.23 Expansion of Existing Use, Including Conversion to Full-Time Occupancy

  • As required by RSA 485-A:38, I, the owner of a structure shall submit an application for approval of an ISDS to serve the structure prior to expanding, changing use, or occupying a structure on a full-time basis such that the load would be increased.
  • Prior to submitting an application, the owner shall work with a permitted designer to determine whether the ISDS serving the structure is a state-approved ISDS that (1) meets the requirements of Env-Wq 1000 in effect at the time of expansion or conversion, (2) sized to accommodate the proposed use (3) Does not need to be modified, such as adding a gravity grease interceptor (4) meets the minimum stands for use or occupancy of the town/city in which the property is located
  • No application for the new ISDS shall be required if (1) the ISDS serving the structure meets criteria (1,2,3,4) and (2) the property is within the protected shoreland.

Env-Wq 1008.01 Lot Loading

  • (a)Unless otherwise allowed, the maximum allowable loading of sewage for subsurface disposal shall be 2,000 gallons per day (GPD) per acre with the best soil and slope conditions. Loading for a specific lot determined based on soils and slopes.
  • (b)An existing ISDS may be replaced with an ISDS designed for the same sewage load even if the lot does not meet the size requirement established as specified above, provided that (1) the existing ISDS is a state-approved system installed after the applicable date and (2) the sewage load has not increased and is not proposed to increase
  • (c)If an existing ISDS serving the ISDS owner’s domicile cannot be replaced under (b), and is on a lot that does not meet the size requirements for the existing use, the ISDS may be replaced with an ISDS designed for the existing use IF the owner demonstrates that the existing use has not changed since Sept 1, 1989 by providing (1) a town property tax record for 1989 or earlier authenticated by a current official of the town or (2) a sworn, notarized affidavit that the existing use has not increased from the use existing as of Sept 1, 1989 from an unrelated individual who’s owned the structure prior to Sept 1, 1989 or has personal knowledge of the use in an official capacity

Note: The Subsurface Systems law was enacted in 1967. Subsurface records do not exist if the structure was constructed prior to 1967.

From 1967 to 1971, state records mainly consist of those septic systems installed within 1,000 feet of a surface water. The catalog of these records is not always complete.

From 1967 to 1986, state records consist only of paper records. No electronic records for this time frame exist. These records are filed alphabetically by last name only.  The municipality where the structure is located may have either paper or electronic records for these building lots.

From 1986 to present, state records consist of paper and some portion of the records which are electronic. The electronic portion of the records can be found on the Subsurface Systems Bureau Public website at:


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