New Hampshire Senate Kills Formula for Landfill Setbacks

In a voice vote on Thursday, April 13, the New Hampshire Senate voted House Bill 56 Inexpedient To Legislate.  This bill would have prohibited siting any part of a landfill over a significant sand and gravel aquifer and established a formula for determining the distance required between a new landfill and a perennial river, lake, or coastal water. 

The proposed setback formula would ensure that any leachate leaking from a future landfill could be detected in time to install mitigation measures before the leachate reaches nearby surface waters.  The bill required that applicants for new solid waste landfills hire an independent hydrogeologist to estimate the rate of groundwater movement at the site and determine the distance any seepage from the site could move in 5 years.  This distance would become the required setback from the nearest surface water.  New Hampshire’s soils vary in permeability, and basing landfill setbacks on the rate of groundwater movement seems a more appropriate strategy for protecting the State’s water quality than the current, one-size-fits-all 200-foot setback.

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