The surest way to prevent contamination of drinking water is to control the land by acquisition or obtaining restrictive easements. Restrictive easements are agreements that prevent the landowner from developing or otherwise using the land in a way that might threaten groundwater. Since the 1800s, water suppliers in New Hampshire have purchased land to protect surface water supply reservoirs. The same strategy can work for groundwater. Unfortunately, cost is a major drawback. It is expensive to buy land and keep it undeveloped. Fortunately, funding assistance is available from the Water Supply Land Conservation Grant Program.
Purpose: To assist in the protection of community and non-transient non-community drinking water supplies by providing grant funds for the acquisition of land or conservation easements.
Eligibility: New Hampshire municipalities and non-profit 501(c)(3) organizations having water supply or land conservation as a principal mission are eligible to apply. The land has to be within the Source Water Protection Area (SWPA) for an existing, proposed, or future water supply (contact DES for assistance with that determination) and it must be from a willing seller.
Funding: varies each year. Funding available for Fall 2015 grants is between $1.3 and 1.6 million, and is limited to certain areas affected by the I-93 widening project or areas in the Lake Massabesic watershed. See map on Water Supply Land Protection Grants webpage.
DES normally provides 25% of total project costs. The 2015 grant round requires only a 50% match. Match sources can include donated land or easements that also lie within the source water protection area, public funds, donated transaction expenses, or private funds.
Deadlines: For deadlines, see the Program Announcement web page.
Stewardship: Annual monitoring and reporting required.
Maps & Technical Assistance: DES staff are available to provide technical assistance, drinking water resource maps, and assistance with landowner contacts.
Allowable Land Uses: Land must remain undeveloped, with passive dispersed recreation, agriculture and forestry allowed. See our Web site for further details.