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Model Water Quality Buffer Regulation: Protecting Water Resources at the Local Level

Methods of Buffer Protection

Water quality buffers can incorporate landscape level characteristics that contribute to water quality impairment such as steep slopes, erodible soils, stormwater runoff, and non-point and point sources of pollution.

The model buffer regulation seeks to recognize these landscape characteristics where they occur - not on all properties and not on all development sites. The goal is to prevent water quality impairment and minimize existing impairments when possible.

Buffer protections can be adopted by municipalities as an overlay district in the zoning ordinance or in land development regulations (e.g. Site Plan Review and Subdivision Regulations). Each method has varying degrees of authority, applicability, and protection of water quality.

Options and Challenges to Local Adoption

Coming Soon

Model Water Quality Buffer Regulation

Coming Soon

Stakeholder Workshop

A statewide stakeholder workshop was held via Zoom on Monday May 24, 2021. The workshop presentation is available below.

Project Advisory Committee

The Advisory Committee convened on March 1, 2021. Meeting notes are available here.

Advisory Committee meetings were held:

  • Wednesday April 7, 2021 from 2:00-4:00pm via Zoom video conference
  • Monday May 3, 2021 from 2:00-4:00pm via Zoom video conference

Technical Resources

Refer to informational materials and technical resources from the NH Buffer Options for the Bay project at

Project Manager:

Julie LaBranche Senior Planner, Rockingham Planning Commission (603) 652-0588

Project Partner:

Strafford Regional Planning Commission

Funding credit:

Preparation of this application was funded by a Local Source Water Protection grant from the New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services, Source Water Protection Program.