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NH Planning Commissions Announce Statewide Model Drinking Water Buffer Regulation

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Rockingham Planning Commission (RPC) and Strafford Regional Planning Commission (SRPC) are pleased to announce that as part of a joint effort, a model buffer regulation for communities to consider adopting to help protect local sources of drinking water will be available soon.



Funding from a 2020 NH Department of Environmental Services Local Source Water Protection grant was awarded to the Rockingham Planning Commission to develop a statewide model Drinking Water Quality Buffer Regulation for New Hampshire. The model will be helpful for a community considering how to protect surface water used as a source of drinking water. This model reflects guidance and feedback from local and statewide experts including the Model Drinking Water Buffer Regulation Advisory Committee, and other technical studies. The model recommends a minimum drinking water quality buffer based on these studies and offers guidance for considering landscape level and site-specific criteria to increase the minimum buffer, when appropriate, to provide increased protect water quality.



The creation of this model is timely. For decades it has been recognized in New Hampshire that changes in land use and land conversion, alteration of drainage patterns, and loss of protective riparian areas have led to a decline in water quality. These stressors include population growth, alteration to natural landscape functions for commercial, residential, and industrial purposes, and climate change impacts such as drought in recent years. As development pressures continue, it will be imperative that communities work collaboratively to act, which include maintaining natural, vegetated buffers that protect valuable drinking water resources and may help improve water quality when implemented.



The planning commissions will be presenting the final draft model Drinking Water Quality Buffer Regulation to regional and statewide stakeholders at a workshop being held on Monday, May 24, 2021 from 2:00-4:00pm. All NH municipalities and stakeholders are welcome to attend this free workshop which will be held via online video conference. An invitation, registration information, and workshop agenda will be widely distributed and posted soon to the project website (see below).



For more information about the project, May workshop, and to view the draft model and other project resources please visit the project website.