The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

A Watershed Approach to Governing New Hampshire's Lakes and Rivers

Evaluating RSA Chapters 481-488
PRS Briefs
PRS Policy Brief 1314-16
September 02, 2014
Download Full Report 

Executive Summary

New Hampshire adopted water management and protection laws in a piecemeal manner over many years, often without addressing the complex relationships between regional water systems and sources of nonpoint pollution. The Department of Environmental Services (DES) is currently implementing a more holistic watershed approach, based on where water drains and how it flows. This report assists in the transition to a watershed approach by presenting a detailed content analysis of existing statutes governing New Hampshire’s natural and man-made bodies of water. Specifically, the content analysis identifies sources of statutory authority for DES to manage watersheds, areas of overlap in existing statutes, and stakeholders affected by the statutes. We then draw on the content analysis to trace how a hypothetical water drop traveling from Pawtuckaway Lake to the Lamprey River interacts with existing statutes and stakeholders. Taken together, the results can help the DES identify specific ways of effectively managing watersheds. Besides shedding light on potential regulatory gaps that influence water quality, it highlights stakeholder groups that the DES can engage in building community connections and promoting non-regulatory means of protecting watersheds.

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences