NH Lakes Association Reports on Legislation

[The following legislative update has been provided by the N.H. Lakes Association. More information may be found on their website at www.nhlakes.org.]

Waterfront Septic Failure Notification Bill Sent to Subcommittee
After its public hearing before the Resources, Recreation and Development Committee in the House of Representatives, SB 384 was sent to a subcommittee. During the public hearing, the bill was opposed only by the Association of Realtors who argued that the dye test provision was impractical and could create a false sense of security for buyers of waterfront property. This came after the Association of Realtors worked with the DES and Granite State Designers and Installers in getting this provision put into the bill.

Changing its position, the Association of Realtors argued that even if a waterfront septic system was in failure, that dye flushed through a system would not show on the ground or in the water if a home had not been used for a prolonged period of time. The Realtors also opposed expanding the site assessment requirement to 4th order and larger streams. NH LAKES will be working with the subcommittee to address any remaining issues with the bill and to ensure its passage.

Initiated by the joint efforts of NH LAKES and the NH Rivers Council and sponsored by Senator Kathy Sgambati (D-Tilton), SB 384 would require that the NH DES and local authorities be notified when a septic system is found to be failing during a site assessment of developed waterfront property (lakes and 4th order and higher rivers). At present, site assessment reports are required to be issued to buyers of developed waterfront property at the time of purchase and sale by permitted septic system designers and installers, but the law does not require that the DES and local authorities be notified when a system is actually failing.

SB 384 is being supported by a broad coalition of stakeholders including the NH Department of Environmental Services, the Granite State Designers and Installers Association, the NH Rivers Management Advisory Committee, and the NH Lakes Management Advisory Committee.

The proposed law would only apply at the time of a purchase and sale agreement and does not establish any new requirements on lakefront property owners that do not already exist in law. It closes a loophole in the current by law by establishing an administrative tracking mechanism for septic systems that endanger our public waters.

SB 358 Mooring Bill in Subcommittee
Senate Bill 358, sponsored by Senator Robert Letourneau, was heard before the House RR&D Committee on April 2nd. After a long public hearing where several members of the public and legislature testified both in favor and in opposition to the bill, SB 358 was sent to subcommittee for the purpose of seeing whether an amendment could be worked out to appease all the affected parties.

Those that testified in opposition to SB 358 felt that the current regulatory program, which applies to the six “big lakes” in NH, did not grant the general public a fair opportunity to obtain moorings permits and was biased towards shorefront property owners.

Senate Bill 358 establishes a citizen-driven petition process (25 signatures per municipality abutting a lake) to require the Department of Safety to hold a public hearing to determine the necessity of moorings regulations. It has yet to be determined when SB 358 will be given a public hearing before the House of Representatives.

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