Septic System

Septic Regulations in New Hampshire

Septic System Ownership in New Hampshire

Septic systems are commonly used to treat residential and commercial wastewater in many smaller New Hampshire towns and communities. Although New Hampshire's state motto is "Live Free or Die" there is substantial regulation of septic systems at both the state and the municipal level.

Regulation of Septic Systems / Septic Contractors in New Hampshire

The Subsurface Systems Bureau of the NH Department of Environmental Services (DES) is the office responsible for:

  • on-site septic inspections
  • licensure of septic system installers and designers
  • managing complaints

The DES has a number of useful fact sheets that address common questions about making changes to existing wastewater treatment systems. However, cities and municipalities also have the right to regulate septic systems as they affect local health issues (especially groundwater contamination). So it is important to check with your local town hall before you install or expand your home septic system.

Licensure Requirements for Septic System Contractors

Professional septic system installers and designers must get a permit from the state before they can design or install a septic system in New Hampshire. Repair or replacement of an existing septic system requires a permit as well. If you are a homeowner and you want to design, install, replace, or repair a septic system on your own primary residence, you may do so without a permit.

Septic system designers are required to pass both written and field exams before they can receive a license in New Hampshire. Septic installers are required to pass a written exam before they can receive a license. Exams are held 4 times a year. In addition, both installers and designers must file an application for a permit and pay a $40 licensing fee each year.

Installing a new Septic System

Many towns have their own requirements when it comes installing a new septic system. For example, in Salem, NH, your septic design must be approved by the town before it is forwarded for a separate approval process by the state. A permit must be purchased from the town, and town engineers must be present during initial tests and before the completed system is backfilled.

How to file a Complaint

If you are concerned that a local septic system may pose a health risk, your first step is to contact town hall. If they can't help, the New Hampshire DES provides a complaint form.

If you are dissatisfied with the service provided to you by a septic system company, you can contact the NH Attorney General's Office or the Better Business Bureau.

Finding a Nearby Septic Contractor

View our directory of New Hampshire septic tank pumping small businesses.


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