Why have new regulations been adopted?
In November 2020, the Town of Chesterfield passed new regulations pertaining to wastewater disposal systems within the Spofford Lake District, see orange sidebar for details. The purpose of this regulation is to protect the water quality and prevent health hazards and pollution in Spofford Lake District. NH DES has required approved plans, inspection, and operational approval for all subsurface systems since 1971, and since 1967 where the system is within 1,000 feet of the Lake. Spofford Lake has many older cottages and homes that were built prior to the requirement of state approval. This new regulation will begin to bring all those old systems up to the current standards to ensure the water quality of Spofford Lake.
Do all homes in Chesterfield need to comply?
Only wastewater disposal systems (septic systems and holding tanks) located within the Spofford Lake District, as defined by the Town of Chesterfield Zoning Regulations, are required to have their wastewater system evaluated and certified that it's not in failure.
Who administers this regulation?
The Chesterfield Health Officer.
If I have a home in the Spofford Lake District, how do I begin to get certified?
If your property does not have a valid subsurface operational approval on file with NH DES owners must certify to the Health Officer that the system is not in failure by providing a current complete written evaluation and certification signed by a certified or licensed septic system evaluator. This evaluation must include all information as found on the Town of Chesterfield Septic and Certification Report.
How long do I have to get certified?
This certification must be completed within 2 years of the enactment of this regulation (November 4, 2020). Certifications are current for 4 years from initial certification. They must be renewed within the final year of each 4-year period thereafter.
Are there general maintenance requirements?
Any approved system that requires ongoing inspection and pumping as part of the system's approval must follow those requirements. Proof of compliance from the property owner may be requested. All other systems must be pumped at least once every 3 years. The Chesterfield Health Officer requires proof of pumping from the property owner.
What determines whether I need to install a new septic system?
Reasons you might need to replace your system include: your system is found to be in failure or there is an increase the number of bedrooms in your home. If you sell your property and there is no valid operational approval on file, then an operational approval of a replacement system will be required prior to occupancy.
What will the certification cost be to me?
$25 will be paid to the town with each certification report.
What happens if I don't comply?
The town will impose a $100 dollar fee for each month a required septic report is late (unless the property is no longer being used). If a property owner is found to be in violation of these regulations, the Health Officer will provide a written notice of the nature of the violation as well as the time allowed to correct the problem. A system in failure requires immediate action that must be approved by the Health Officer before the property may be used again. If found in violation of these regulations a penalty of $100/day may be assessed and the town may petition the Superior Court for an injunction.
Note that the Lake District regulations build on existing DES regulations.
How can I learn about the connections between lake health and septics systems?
One resource is a NH LAKES video entitled "Septic Systems and Our Lakes."
What type of products are safest for my septic system?
Consider the guidance offered at The Spruce, Best Septic-Safe Household Cleaning Products.
Page updated June 6, 2022