CONCORD, NH – The New Hampshire Department of Environmental Services (DES) recently adopted revised rules pertaining to public bathing places, which encompass designated beaches and flow through bathing places, as well as pools and spas. The new rules address six main areas of beach management and are targeted at protecting public health and safety while recreating at New Hampshire's beaches. These areas include: beach construction, supervision, safety, emergency rescue equipment, toilets, and trash receptacles.
Recent media coverage inaccurately portrayed these rules as requiring all beaches to install and provide toilet facilities, provide emergency rescue equipment and emergency communication devices such as telephones or radios.
Designated Beach area rules state that toilet facilities be installed at the owner's discretion, but not required. If toilet facilities are present they should meet the requirements specified in the rules, including safeguards to prevent portable type toilets from being tipped over and keeping toilet discharges from reaching the beach. In the event that toilets are available, these toilets must be in walking distance from the public beach.
The rules specify that if rescue equipment is not provided, a sign be posted to notify the public that the rescue equipment is not available. The rules also state that emergency communication devices be located within 200 feet of the beach, and if this communication device is not present, a sign be posted to notify the public of the location of the nearest communication device. Although emergency rescue equipment and communication devices are recommended for public safety, DES feels that the public should be notified by signage in cases where rescue equipment is not provided and that the public should be alerted to the nearest communication devices in case of an emergency. All this information can be communicated to beach visitors by posting a sign that clearly states that there is no lifeguard on duty and the location of the nearest phone.
DES provides the inspection, permitting and enforcement capability that serves to protect the health and safety of those who visit our Designated Beach Areas. The public beach inspection program provides a public service through beach monitoring and facility inspections to help ensure the public enjoy a safe and healthy recreational experience.
In the interest of public health and safety, NHDES is cooperating with beach owners to ensure that the rules are interpreted correctly and that beaches are able to comply with these minor adjustments. For more information about the NH DES Beach Program or the recently adopted rules pertaining to public bathing places, please contact Jody Connor at (603) 271-3414.