WATER MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION
NEW HAMPSHIRE RIVERS MANAGEMENT AND PROTECTION PROGRAM
483:9-c Establishment of Protected Instream Flows.
I. The commissioner, in consultation with the advisory committee, shall adopt rules under RSA 541-A specifying the standards, criteria, and procedures by which protected instream flows shall be established and enforced for each designated river or segment. The department shall determine the protected instream flow criteria based on the requirements of flow-dependent instream public uses. Each protected instream flow shall be established and enforced to maintain water for instream public uses and to protect characteristics, including recreational, fisheries, wildlife, environmental, hydropower, cultural, historical, archaeological, scientific, ecological, aesthetic, community significance, agricultural, public water supply, riparian rights, and the resources for which the river or segment is designated. The department shall determine the protected instream flow criteria based on the requirements of flow-dependent, instream public uses.
II. No less than 60 days prior to commencing a protected instream flow study on any designated river, the department shall hold a public hearing jointly with the senate committee with jurisdiction over river management issues and the house committee with jurisdiction over river management issues and provide a public comment period of 30 days. The department shall consider the public comments received before commencing the study.
III. One public hearing shall be held in at least one municipality along the designated river or segment to receive public comment on the establishment of a proposed protected instream flow.
IV. One public hearing shall be held in at least one municipality along the designated river or segment to receive public comment on the establishment of a proposed water management plan intended to implement the protected instream flow.
V. The procedure adopted under this section shall include an assessment of the effect of a protected instream flow upon existing hydroelectric power generation, water supply, flood control, and other riparian users.
VI. Water management plans implementing instream flow protections shall be effective and enforceable upon adoption. The department shall allow a period of up to 5 years for any party subject to the instream flow program to implement the provisions of their water management plan. The department shall adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, to allow for one 5-year extension for any party who files ongoing progress reports for and is working in good faith on their water management plan but is unable to implement the provisions of their water management plan due to financial or other hardship.
VII. The department shall adopt rules, pursuant to RSA 541-A, to allow for waivers from the provisions of a water management plan. Such rules shall specify the waiver criteria based on negative impacts to public health or safety or an undue financial hardship on a party subject to a water management plan. Should a party meet the criteria for a waiver, and notwithstanding paragraph VI, the department shall waive, in whole or in part, the enforceability of those components of the party's water management plan until the department amends such plan to alleviate the negative impacts to public health or safety or undue financial hardship.
VIII. The protected instream flows established under this section shall be maintained at all times, except when inflow is less than the protected instream flow level as a result of natural causes or when the commissioner determines that a public water supply emergency exists which affects public health and safety.
IX. Only those permits issued by the department that affect stream flow within a designated river shall be required to meet protected instream flows.
X. Any party who is aggrieved by a determination establishing such protected instream flows may petition the commissioner for a hearing to review such determination within 30 days of the date the determination is issued. The filing of such petition shall stay the implementation of the determination until a final decision has been rendered on the petition or an appeal taken pursuant to RSA 541.
Source. 1990, 233:11. 2009, 208:2. 2011, 32:4, eff. May 9, 2011. 2016, 286:6, eff. Aug. 20, 2016.